Does the U.S. Need a Balanced Budget Amendment?

Some say amending the Constitution would solve the debt crisis; critics call it a distraction.

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With the federal budget deficit becoming the focus of Washington debate, the idea of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution has returned. Advocates say it will force action Congress is incapable of taking itself. Critics decry it as a distraction.
Edited by Robert Schlesinger


Orrin Hatch
Senior senator from Utah and ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee

In 1997, after a fierce debate, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution I introduced was defeated by just one vote in the United States Senate. Fourteen years later, our nation is facing a debt crisis of epic proportions Our national debt has gone from roughly $5 trillion in 1997 to over $14 trillion today...



Scott Lilly
Center for American Progress senior fellow and former chief of staff of the Joint Economic Committee

The craftsmanship of our forefathers at Philadelphia seems to come under attack every time modern politicians screw up. Rather than accepting responsibility for electing incompetent leaders, it is easier to blame the Constitution. If we could only come up with a formula by which public policy could be predetermined by constitutional...


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