Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Senator-elect Rand Paul (R-KY.) told host Christiane Amanpour he would push for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
This is an idea whose time has come. In 1994, Republicans campaigned -- and won -- on a balanced budget amendment (as part of the Contract with America). Back then; the deficit was just $203 billion. Today, the national deficit is at $1.4 trillion (that’s roughly $3,500 for each American, and some $14,000 for each family of four in deficit spending just this year alone).
Most states require their elected officials to balance their budget each year, but no such requirement impedes the reckless spending of the United States federal government. A constitutional amendment would bar the federal government from spending more money than it brings in each year -- and require a supermajority in order to raise taxes. This is not a radical idea, but the consequences of failing to enact such a measure cannot be overstated.
Fortunately, as evidenced by the tea party movement, there appears to finally be the political will required to get this done. Newly elected Republicans simply must realize they weren’t elected to merely "trim" spending or "slow down" the rate of government growth, but rather, to cut, de-authorize and balance the budget. (If they fail to grasp this fact, it will be a short and depressing two years).
It is also worth noting that the conservative movement is united behind this cause. That Senator-elect Paul was the one to reignite this debate after the GOP's historic victory on Tuesday is not terribly surprising – he campaigned on this. And though he represents the libertarian wing of the conservative movement (his father ran for president as a Libertarian), his vocal support is indicative of the broad-based support for this amendment.
The financial crisis has galvanized the disparate elements of the conservative movement, just as the threat of Communism united the "three legs" of the conservative movement during the Reagan years (like Communism, the deficit has become an existential threat to our freedom).
As a Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the Family Research Council (FRC), I’ve seen firsthand that social conservatives view the economic crisis – and, more specifically, a balanced budget -- as a moral issue. Similarly, national security conservatives realize it's a security issue (America’s debt is being lent by foreign interests, with China being the largest single holder). This is an issue that transcends the normal dividing lines, and unites us.