Reason for a New Age

National Debt – Reading

Posted by publius2point0 on 2010/04/18

The previous post was written based principally on my own knowledge and opinions. I have now read through some treatises by economists and the testimonies put before the Legislature in times previous when Balanced Budget amendments were proposed.

The argument for such an amendment is essentially that we are already at the point of last resort and so such a measure is necessary. This is then followed by various accounts of large numbers. I am not linking to any of these testimonies because there really isn’t anything more to say. I know I have no idea where their numbers came from nor what the technobabble is of how to compute those figures. The math would be beyond me, and so I presume it to be beyond my reader. Personally, I can only note that the men who gave these speeches, that I saw, were “policy analysts” (i.e. think tank representatives) and politicians. They weren’t economists.

Economists do not strictly denounce such an amendment; they simply state that if it is to be enacted, it must almost certainly must be as an act of last resort in case it really has been determined that politicians have lost the ability to reduce deficits on their own. (And I say “lost” because historically the deficit has been reduced many times.) I suspect that they would also, if they felt an Amendment had a plausible chance of passage, lobby to force changes that allowed more discretion to handle recessions and other foreseeable issues than what is given in current incarnations. The proposed amendments, as written, are simply impractical and likely more harmful than good even considering a necessity to mandate budgeting.

But, as expected, they were generally against such an amendment. Several points that I didn’t consider were also raised. I will link you to what I have read as the documents are quite readable:

Robert Rubin

Bruce Bartlett

Alan Reynolds

William Keech –

Not an economist (I don’t believe), but also raising interesting points:

Allen Schick –


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