Lee believes there are several key components to a balanced budget amendment which he outlines in his book, including making tax increases contingent on a two-thirds vote in Congress so that the option to increase taxes is not the default maneuver to balance a budget. He believes the amendment should require Congress spends no more than it takes in, and in fact should cap the spending at a fixed percent of GDP (the proposal submitted in the Senate caps it at 18 percent of GDP, just about the historical average). There would also be a supermajority vote required to raise the debt ceiling.
And for those who argue that stimulus packages wouldn’t have been possible under the amendment, Lee sees little difficulty responding.
“That’s exibit A for why we ought to have it,” Lee said of the Obama stimulus package.
Lee also pointed out that his balanced budget amendment includes an exception to the spending restriction in time of war – “not a blank check, but to the extent necessary.” Congress would also be able to supersede the amendment with a two-thirds vote.
“We wanted to make it difficult, but not impossible, for Congress to spend more than it had access to,” Lee said, citing as an example a massive or immediate crisis created by a national emergency or natural disaster. “What this is designed to do is to make it more difficult – to make it impossible – for Congress to just do this as a matter of course.”