Mike Lee on Budget & Economy



Balanced Budget Amendment with supermajority to circumvent

Congress may take some meaningful steps toward reducing the deficit and perhaps even produce a balanced budget, but in the long run the old spendthrift habits will re-emerge--they always do. So after we change the culture of over-spending in Congress, we have to ensure that it STAYS changed. A singe stop will permanently solve this problem: enacting a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. An ideal balanced budget amendment would contain at least five elements:
  1. Equalize Revenues and Outlays.
  2. Spending May Not Exceed a Fixed Percentage of GDP: I would put the figure at 18%; as of 2011m federal spending is 25% of GDP.
  3. Supermajority Vote to Circumvent: I favor a 2/3 requirement. I care less about the precise margin that about stopping Congress from approving deficit spending through a simple-majority vote.
  4. Supermajority Vote to Raise the Debt Ceiling.
  5. Supermajority Vote to Increase Taxes.
Source: The Freedom Agenda, by Sen. Mike Lee, p. 63-72 , Jul 18, 2011

Our economy cannot survive this ruinous level of debt

Federal spending has skyrocketed from roughly 2% of GDP a hundred years ago to over 25% in 2011. Stated differently, for every family of 4, the federal government has already incurred $200,000 in debt and is adding new debt of roughly $22,000 per year.

Politicians recognize the problem but are incapable of fixing it.

Source: The Freedom Agenda, by Sen. Mike Lee, p. 1-2 , Jul 18, 2011

Congress wants praise; incapable of fiscal responsibility

Congress has become fundamentally INCAPABLE of fiscal responsibility, and attempts to enforce spending discipline on it and to restore constitutionally limited government will ultimately fall short of a balanced budget amendment. Having accumulated a staggering debt exceeding $14 trillion, Congress is clearly unable to wield the debt-accrual power responsibly. Members of Congress face an overwhelming, five-fold set of circumstances tempting them to engage in reckless spending. As they spend TRILLIONS of dollars each year, members of Congress are:
Source: The Freedom Agenda, by Sen. Mike Lee, p. 51-53 , Jul 18, 2011

A balanced budget amendment is essential

Deficit spending facilitates the continuing growth of the federal government. It is far too tempting to shift the cost of today's federal expansion to future generations. Until we require Congress to operate under a balanced budget, that expansion will continue. A balanced budget amendment is essential to restoring the original, proper role of the federal government.
Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, www.mikelee2010.com, "Issues" , Jul 19, 2010

Constitutional amendment for balanced budget

Deficit spending facilitates government growth. Like most state and local governments and nearly all households, the federal government should not spend more money than it receives. We need a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to balance its budget. Deficit spending should be permitted only where (1) 2/3 of both houses of Congress agree that a specified amount of deficit spending is essential to the well-being of the country, and (2) that decision is ratified by 3/4 of the States.
Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, www.mikelee2010.com, "Issues" , Jul 19, 2010

Demand a Balanced Budget amendment.

Lee signed the Contract From America

The Contract from America, clause 3. Demand a Balanced Budget:

Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike.

Source: The Contract From America 10-CFA03 on Jul 8, 2010

Limit federal spending growth to per-capita inflation rate.

Lee signed the Contract From America

The Contract from America, clause 6. End Runaway Government Spending:

Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth.

Source: The Contract From America 10-CFA06 on Jul 8, 2010

Supports the Cut-Cap-and-Balance Pledge.

Lee signed the Cut-Cap-and-Balance Pledge to limit government

[The Cut-Cap-and-Balance Pledge is sponsored by a coalition of several hundred Tea Party, limited-government, and conservative organizations].

Despite our nation's staggering $14.4 trillion debt, there are many Members of the U.S. House and Senate who want to raise our nation's debt limit without making permanent reforms in our fiscal policies. We believe that this is a fiscally irresponsible position that would place America on the Road to Ruin. At the same time, we believe that the current debate over raising the debt limit provides a historic opportunity to focus public attention, and then public policy, on a path to a balanced budget and paying down our debt.

We believe that the "Cut, Cap, Balance" plan for substantial spending cuts in FY 2012, a statutory spending cap, and Congressional passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution is the minimum necessary precondition to raising the debt limit. The ultimate goal is to get us back to a point where increases in the debt limit are no longer necessary. If you agree, take the Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge!

    I pledge to urge my Senators and Member of the House of Representatives to oppose any debt limit increase unless all three of the following conditions have been met:
  1. Cut: Substantial cuts in spending that will reduce the deficit next year and thereafter.
  2. Cap: Enforceable spending caps that will put federal spending on a path to a balanced budget.
  3. Balance: Congressional passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- but only if it includes both a spending limitation and a super-majority for raising taxes, in addition to balancing revenues and expenses.
Source: Cut-Cap-and-Balance Pledge 12-CCB on Jan 1, 2012

Disapprove of increasing the debt limit.

Lee co-sponsored Joint Resolution on Debt Limit

Congressional Summary:JOINT RESOLUTION: Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That Congress disapproves of the President's exercise of authority to increase the debt limit, as submitted on Jan. 12, 2012.

Congressional Vote: Vote #4 in the House: 239 Yeas; 176 Nays; Senate declined to vote on the Resolution.

OnTheIssues Explanation: On Jan. 12, 2012, Pres. Obama notified Congress of his intent to raise the nation's debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion, two weeks after he had postponed the request to give lawmakers more time to consider the action. Congress then had 15 days to say no before the debt ceiling is automatically raised from $15.2 trillion to $16.4 trillion. Hence the debt ceiling was increased.

In Aug. 2011, the US government was nearly shut down by an impasse over raising the debt ceiling; under an agreement reached then, the President could raise the debt limit in three increments while also implementing $2.4 trillion in budget cuts. The agreement also gave Congress the option of voting to block each of the debt-ceiling increases by passing a "resolution of disapproval." The House disapproved; the Senate, by declining to vote in the 15-day window, killed the Resolution. Even if the resolution were passed, Pres. Obama could veto it; which could be overridden by a 2/3 majority in the House and Senate. The House vote only had 57% approval, not enough for the 67% override requirement, so the Senate vote became moot. The same set of actions occurred in Sept. 2011 for the first debt ceiling increase.

Source: HJRes.98/SJRes34 12-SJR34 on Jan 23, 2012

Audit the Federal Reserve & its actions on mortgage loans.

Lee co-sponsored Federal Reserve Transparency Act

The Federal Reserve Transparency Act directs: