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Shelby proposes a balanced budget amendment

Shelby has sponsored similar legislation each Congress since joining the Senate.

Senator Richard Shelby during a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. (GLENN FAWCETT/DOD)

Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby has again introduced legislation proposing a constitutional amendment that would require Congress to have a balanced budget in an effort to reduce our nation’s increasing debt, which has surpassed $28 trillion. Having sponsored similar legislation each Congress since joining the Senate, this marks Shelby’s 18th time to introduce the measure.

“While our national debt continues to climb, it is more apparent now than ever that the federal government should be required to do what hardworking Americans do every day – balance a budget,” Shelby said. “I have long believed that our Constitution lacks proper constraint on government spending. If we continue in this unsustainable direction, the burden will land on our children and our grandchildren. That is why I am, once again, urging Congress to adopt this common-sense amendment that would improve our spending of taxpayer dollars, restore confidence in our economy, and help protect the well-being of our country for future generations.”

If passed by Congress and subsequently ratified by three-fourths of the states, this Constitutional amendment would require that the total amount of money spent by the United States during any fiscal year, except during times of war, cannot exceed the amount of revenue received by the country during the same fiscal year, and not exceed 20 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States during the previous calendar year.

The Bush administration and Congress used deficit spending to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for his unpaid for Medicare prescription drug benefits plan. After the economic collapse in 2008, Bush and the Congress used deficit spending to buy up troubled mortgage backed securities and add to the money supply.

Obama and Congress continued most of the Bush spending and added an economic stimulus and healthcare reform, including billions in Obamacare subsidies and an unpaid for Medicaid expansion.

Trump and the Congress then used deficit spending to pay for a military buildup and tax cuts, while keeping most of the Obama and Bush spending programs in place. Then COVID-19 hit and deficit spending was used to bail out businesses, pay enhanced unemployment benefits, vaccine development and subsidies to state and local governments. Biden has already passed his own $1.9 trillion spending bill, again paid for with deficit spending.

The U.S. has not had a balanced budget in more than 20 years. The debt has surpassed $28 trillion and the budget deficit is over $3.2 trillion. Interest on the debt has soared to $396 billion a year.

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Shelby has sponsored similar legislation each Congress since joining the Senate, this marks Shelby’s 18th time to introduce the measure. If Congress passes the amendment it would still have to be ratified by the states. Shelby has represented Alabama in the Senate since 1987.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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