We oppose a balance budget amendment (BBA) because of the accounting problems, the big impact, and the bad decisions that will flow from trying to balance the budget in the short term. We recognize that we have an enormous problem but we don’t see BBA as a solution.
After we wrote that there would be a budget shortfall of a trillion dollars or so in fiscal 2019 we remembered the problem of budget math. Our state has a biennial or two-year budget. It was always took some work to understand what the annual impact was. Switching to the federal budget somebody might reply that we could fix the trillion dollar shortfall by eliminating the $1.51 trillion cost of tax reform. The problem is that the tax reform score is over a ten-year period. Eliminating tax reform would get you somewhere between a sixth and an eighth of the way there.
We need to work on entitlements. Other areas could help but that is where the money is. The changes need to be gradual. For example, we can start means testing on Social Security now but full implementation might come in 20 years. It also gives us time to fine-tune means testing because means testing is very tricky.
Say no to the BBA and always ask about the time frame on budget proposals.