Legislative Column for the Week of April 27, 2015
Toward a Balanced Federal Budget

Reining in Out of Control Spending


This week’s column has been provided by Compact for America. Every child born today owes nearly $60,000 as his share of our $18.1+ trillion national debt. But that’s not all—nearly $650,000 is the average child’s share of the federal government’s estimated $210 trillion in unfunded spending programs. Many of these programs may be good and necessary, but our kids have never had an opportunity to vote for or against their advocates. The truth is that they mostly benefit other people.

If obligations of such magnitude continue to be incurred without limit, our children and their children will inevitably face taxation without representation on an unprecedented scale.

*chart courtesy of Compact for America


This observation is not idle speculation. Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmdorf testified only a few weeks ago that our national debt was on a “trend that could not be sustained.” A few years before that, in September 2011, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, testified “our debt is the greatest threat to our national security.” All around the world, we have seen nations like Argentina, Greece, Italy, Mexico, and Spain facing crisis and economic collapse because of unsustainable debt spending by their governments.

This is why, with a bipartisan vote, the Senate passed SB 433-Compact for a Balanced Budget this week. The Compact represents a solemn promise by this state to use its constitutional power under Article V of the U.S. Constitution to advance and ratify a powerful Balanced Budget Amendment in as few as 12 months. That amendment would impose a constitutional debt limit that could not be increased without the approval of a majority of state legislatures. States would be placed in the position of imposing external discipline on the federal government to stop its abuse of debt and future generations. This would restore a crucial check and balance on the otherwise unlimited federal power to incur debt, while preserving the flexibility needed to handle genuine national emergencies. 

Things would have to change if the federal government’s credit card were constitutionally limited and placed under the control of a majority of state legislatures, as proposed by the Compact for a Balanced Budget. Washington politicians would no longer be able to get away with promising anything it takes to get elected. Finally, we would have a real chance to stop the sacrifice of our kids and their kids to shortsighted political ambitions.

SB 433 now moves to the House for consideration.

I always encourage my constituents to feel free to contact me throughout the year with comments, questions or suggestions by calling my office at (573) 751-5713. To find more information about the bills I sponsor, or visit www.senate.mo.gov/brown.

Thank you for reading this and for your participation in state government.