Press Release

December 14, 2011
"A balanced budget amendment threatens to turn budget disputes into constitutional crises"

Washington, DC – Following the defeat in the Senate of two constitutional amendments requiring a balanced budget through extreme cuts to important programs, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) made the following statement. Senator Cardin is a member of the Senate Budget Committee.

“Amending our constitution is not an acceptable way to address our nation’s long-term fiscal problems.  It could have dire consequences on our economy, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education, clean air and clean water, national security, and other critical government programs. In addition, the constraints of a balanced budget amendment could leave us unprepared to respond quickly to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, terrorist attacks like 9/11, and financial crises like the recent mortgage meltdown.

“We can balance the budget without changing our constitution.  We have done it before – and we can do it again.  From Fiscal Years 1998 through 2001 we had balanced budgets.  In those years, under the leadership of President Bill Clinton we had federal surpluses.  There were effective budget and revenue measures that led to fiscal success and appositive balance sheet.  My colleagues on the other side of the aisle rarely tout the successes of that era, but I believe that we should use those policies as a guide.  There are solutions, budget controls that can lead to better outcomes.  And there are bipartisan options.” 

Earlier this year, Senator Cardin and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced a bill (S. 1681) that would prohibit Congress from considering any legislation unless a budget resolution is passed by the April 15 deadline.  April 15 is the date by which Congress is required by law to pass a budget resolution, but has failed to do so too many times in recent years.