What are the pros and cons of the proposed balanced budget amendment?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major benefit of such an amendment would be that it would, presumably, help to rein in government spending.  The federal government's yearly deficits are terribly high at this point and my interfere with the country's economic development.

However, there are serious problems with this amendment.  Among them are:

  • It would not allow deficit spending for the purpose of stimulating the economy in a major economic downturn.  Most economists think that the government needs the capability to enact such fiscal policy in emergencies.
  • It would raise the possibility of budgeting by court order.  Imagine if the Congress passed a budget that in some people's view did not conform to the amendment.  A lawsuit would likely ensue and the budget would be on hold until the courts ruled.  This could take a very long time, much longer than we can wait for a budget.  In the mean time, what spending would be allowed?  Would that be up to the courts?  If so, this would be a huge reversal of the traditional role of the judicial system.