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Monday, February 11, 2013

You just can’t kill a really lousy idea

National Review:

Frustrated by the months of non-stop budget fights, Senate Republicans are set to mount a fiscal counteroffensive this week with the reintroduction of a balanced-budget amendment.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and minority whip John Cornyn (R., Texas) are leading the effort. They hope to unveil a bill by Thursday with unanimous Republican support.

Behind the scenes, sources say McConnell and Cornyn are eager to shift the party away from inside-the-Beltway drama and make a more national, coherent case about the GOP’s fiscal principles.

Senate insiders say McConnell and Cornyn have already lined up almost all Senate Republicans behind the plan, but the whip process is still in progress as of Monday morning.

House Republican aides say most conservatives in the lower chamber are going to support the Senate’s plan. Speeches and media appearances are being arranged for later this week.

“This is nothing but gimmickry on every level,” writes Greg Sargent. “First, the Balanced Budget Amendment. Republicans pushed this idea during the debt ceiling fight of 2011. It is terrible and dangerous policy, as former Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett has usefully detailed. Bartlett termed the idea, which would cap fiscal outlays at 18 percent of GDP, as ‘mind-boggling in its insanity.’ Macroeconomics Advisers has said such a proposal would ‘quickly destroy millions of jobs while creating enormous economic and social upheaval.’”

Part of the beauty of the Balanced Budget Amendment was that wingnuts really like it, while it’s never had a chance of passing. It still doesn’t. It’s more of a threat than a policy. And a pretty empty one.

Democrats aren’t going to throw away future economic growth to end a one-time hostage situation with Republicans. And Republicans are certain to know that. They’re also certain to know that if the sequester (formerly know as the “fiscal cliff”) strangles off the economy, they’re going to take the blame for it.

So it’s in all likelihood a bluff. But this bluff manages to keep the zombie bad idea of a Balanced Budget Amendment alive and shambling brainlessly around.

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