Demand for balanced federal budget – demagoguery or good for democracy?by Dara Kam | April 15th, 2010
A proposed statewide referendum that wouldn’t really do anything to balance any budget but would send a statement to Congress generated a lot of heat in the House Rules committee this morning.
“Basically House memorials are meaningless. They’re like toilet paper,” House Democratic leader Ron Saunders said of the proposal.
The “nonbinding statewide advisory referendum,” pushed by GOP leaders including Senate President Jeff Atwater and already passed by the Senate, would ask voters the following question:
In order to stop the uncontrolled growth of our national debt and prevent excessive borrowing by the Federal Government, which threatens jobs, robs America and our children of their opportunity for success, and threatens our national security, should the United States Constitution be amended to require a balanced federal budget without raising taxes?
“This sends a message today that federal spending is out of control and we need to have a balance,” House budget chief David Rivera, R-Miami, told the Rules Committee this morning.
But Saunders and other Dems objected to the strongly-worded proposal as election-year “propaganda,” “incendiary” and “hypocritical” because lawmakers raised millions of dollars in drivers “fees” and cigarette taxes to balance the budget last year.
“The language here is unnecessary and just an opportunity to demagogue,” said Saunders, D-Key West, who offered an amendment changing the language to “Should the U.S. Constitution be amended to require a balanced federal budget?”
His amendment failed, and the referendum passed along partisan lines.