11/17/11, Washington, D.C.: The nation’s largest independent union of federal employees has joined a list of 277 national organizations in voicing strong opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, warning that it would be strikingly counterproductive. The groups’ serious concerns were expressed in a letter to every member of the House and Senate.
“Such a step would effectively tie the hands of Congress in dealing with the specific fiscal circumstances confronting the nation at any given point in time, and that is a most unwise proposition,” said President Colleen M. Kelley of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).
The letter quoted a preeminent economic forecasting firm which concluded that if such an amendment had already been ratified and was being enforced on the fiscal 2012 budget, the catastrophic effects would include spending cuts of $1.5 trillion in 2012 alone. That, the analysis said, would throw some 15 million people out of work, double the unemployment rate to some 18 percent and cause the economy to shrink next year by about l7 percent, compared to the projected gain of 2 percent.
By contrast, the current deliberations of the congressional super committee are an effort to reduce the federal deficit by about $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.
“In short,” the organizations told Congress, “a balanced budget amendment is a recipe for making recessions more frequent, longer, and deeper, while requiring severe cuts that would harshly affect seniors, children, veterans, people with disabilities, homeland security activities, public health and safety, environmental protection, education and medical research.:
It added: “It would almost certainly necessitate massive cuts to vital programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits.”
Finally, the letter stated that a balanced budget amendment has no place in the Constitution of the United and States and should not be used as a substitute for real leadership on fiscal policy.