Balanced Budget Amendment, Redux
Since we checked in last week, the Presidential candidates have solidified their support considerably for Rep. Jim DeMint's "Cut, Cap and Balance," a pledge to oppose raising the debt ceiling in the absence of fairly draconian spending cuts and a balanced budget amendment. The pledge also includes a mandate for a supermajority in both chambers for raising taxes, effectively making such actions impossible. (The supermajority rule is credited with helping to decimate California's budget.)
At its core, your letter is based on an untested and unacceptably risky assumption: that if the United State were to continue to pay interest on its debt -- yet failed to pay legally required obligations to its citizens, servicemen and women, and businesses -- there would be no adverse market reaction and no damage to the full faith and credit of the United States. Again, this idea is starkly at odds with the judgment of every previous Administration, regardless of party, that has faced debt limit impasses.
Tim Pawlenty continues to reiterate his support for DeMint's pledge, but he now has some company:
Mitt Romney, who has incured the ire of anti-abortion groups for refusing to sign the Susan B. Anthony List pledge, agreed to "Cut, Cap and Balance." Incidentially, when Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts, he declined to sign a “No New Taxes” pledge, calling it "government by gimmickry."
Newt Gingrich, perhaps in an attempt to prove that his campaign still exists, has joined Bachmann and Romney. "Fiscal discipline," he said, "requires lawmakers to be smart not cheap and requires a different type of thinking than we see in Washington."
Michele Bachmann, who generally supports the idea of a balanced budget amendment, has still not announced if she's a proponent of DeMint's particular version. Meanwhile, Jon Huntsman refuses to sign the pledge, claiming (rather admirably) he has sworn off them entirely.