Even if President Obama's healthcare reform plan dies in Congress, Republican analysts and pollsters believe that the soaring federal deficit and congressional spending will be the dominating political issues this year, possibly sparking a new call for a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.
"The balanced budget amendment will come back as a major issue," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says. "Spending and deficits are now a much bigger issue."
Gingrich, who came to power after the 1994 election, which put the GOP in charge of the House for the first time in decades, said that the antispending mood in the nation is much more grim than in 1994, owing to the multiple bailouts and the public's concerns about the economy and higher taxes. By just raising the idea of renewing the balanced budget amendment debate, Gingrich is giving House and Senate conservatives a new issue to rally around. A House GOP aide said that if Gingrich is already talking about it, then it won't be long before the Republican Caucus in the House takes up the cause. "He's still the guy we go to for the big ideas," said the aide.