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2011-02-03

Cornyn - SOTU & balanced budget amendment, all hail breaks out inside the Washington beltway

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

A telephone conference scheduled with United States Senator John Cornyn on Wednesday, Jan. 26, was disrupted by trouble on the lines due to inclement weather in Washington, DC.
Prior to the beginning of the conference, a reporter based in the nation's capital noted, "It's hailing right now and we're expecting eight inches of snow." The final tally was just three inches of the frozen precipitation, but even an inch of the stuff effectively paralyzes DC and Northern Virginia.
Despite technical problems, Cornyn made it clear things are not yet how he would prefer them inside the beltway.
For example, he felt that President Barack Obama's State of the Union address to the joint session of Congress the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 25, came up somewhat short. As Cornyn noted, "President Obama made a lot of promises in his State of the Union Address - just like he's done in previous years. In past State of the Union speeches, President Obama promised to focus on jobs and the economy, yet our unemployment rate still sits well north of nine percent."
According to Cornyn, the president's promises in the last two years to make "the hard choices and cut spending" have instead added more than $3 trillion to the national debt.
"The president said we have to get a handle on our national debt. I couldn't agree more, but I want to see action, not just talk."
After describing Obama's solution of a freeze on some parts of the federal budget as "a small step in the right direction," Cornyn added, "but [the president's] call for new government spending represents a giant step backwards."
According to the senator, the best way to restore fiscal discipline in Washington would be through a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. "I intend to introduce such an amendment with dozens of my colleagues very soon," Cornyn said. "I hope the White House will endorse it. "In Texas, we prefer straight talk and promises kept, over grandiose pledges and zero results."
Led by Cornyn and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, 21 senators introduced the Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution on Thursday, Jan. 27.
If enacted, the proposed amendment would bring down the nation's skyrocketing national debt by requiring balanced budgets. It would also prohibit deficit spending or tax increases unless approved by two-thirds of the House of Representatives and Senate.
"Millions of working families across the country balance their checkbooks every year, and their government should do the same," Cornyn said, advocating that passing a Balanced Budget Amendment be the first priority of the 112th Congress."
"We are facing a fiscal crisis, and everyone agrees that our nation is on an unsustainable path. Unfortunately, Washington has a track record of failing to get its own books in order. We must set effective limits on spending, taxes, and require a balanced budget. Congress needs discipline. The federal government is broke."
To this end, Cornyn joined Hatch in the effort. The senator from Utah has led the fight for a balanced budget amendment for years. In 1997, the Senate came within one vote of approving a similar amendment put forward by Hatch.
Now more than $14 trillion, the national debt has increased by more than 25 percent in just the last two years. A recent report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said the public debt is already nearly two-thirds the size of this nation's economy and could soar to an astonishing 90 percent in just nine years.
Specifically, the Balanced Budget Amendment:
• Mandates that total budgetary outlays for any fiscal year not exceed total revenues.
• Caps federal spending at 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.
• Requires the president to submit a balanced budget to Congress every fiscal year.
• Requires two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate on any measure that raises taxes.
Additionally the amendment includes provisions can be waived if there is a formal declaration of war, if the US is engaged in a military conflict constituting a threat to national security, or if two-thirds of both the House and Senate approve.