…borrowing’s burden falls on future generations. This is a form of expropriation–taxation without representation of the unborn.–G. Will
In a column in the Elmira Star Gazette on Jan. 4, 2018, George Will argues for a balanced budget amendment. Will’s article rambles through one indefensible idea after another. Here is a summary.
- deficit spending burdens the unborn.
- there is no doubt deficits hurt the economy.
- advocates balance budget amendment to Constitution.
- claims current government programs are unconstitutional.
- deficits tolerable only in case of war and other emergencies.
- supports term limits in case of an unbalanced budget.
- assumes a balanced budget amendment would be effective.
So much for G. Will’s opinion; here are the facts:
- Excessive national debt may well be a problem in the future, but it is a problem for future congresses, which will need to address it, rather than future children.
- The claim “there is no doubt” begs the question.
- Congress is responsible for fiscal policy; a balanced budget amendment, if honored, would tie their hands.
- We often hear the claim that government activities violate the Constitution, but Congress and the Supreme Court don’t agree.
- Deficits are desirable and inevitable during recessions and foolish in time of prosperity.
- Will claims that term limits would encourage representatives to take a long term view. On the contrary, it would encourage them to milk their current job and prepare for their next one.
- It is unlikely that a balanced budget amendment would serve any worthwhile purpose. The Supreme Court seldom interferes with Congress. A balanced budget amendment would likely be no more effective than the “emoluments clause” is in the case of the current President.
One could argue that fiscal policy, like monetary policy, is too important to be left to Congress. Perhaps an independent agency, like the Federal Reserve, should be entrusted with fiscal policy.