In 1995, the House of Representatives passed a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution with bipartisan support. The total national debt at the time was $4.95 trillion – an amount alarming enough to warrant an attempt to change the Constitution in order to prevent the debt from further increasing. Today, our national debt stands at $14.6 trillion dollars and we are on a path toward $26 trillion in ten years time.

A Balanced Budget Amendment added to our Constitution would require that the president submit a budget to Congress which doesn’t spend more than we take in each year – except in time of war or national emergency. It’s a basic approach which the majority of American families adhere to. If you don’t have the money – you shouldn’t be spending it.

With an ever growing mountain of debt, it’s clear why our country needs a Balanced Budget Amendment. We cannot afford to continue spending at this rate. Every man, woman, and child in America is responsible for $46,000 of the national debt. With the Federal Government spending over $10 billion a day, we must change the course we’re on. A Constitutional requirement to balance the budget placed in the framework of our government is part of the solution to the stop the endless spending in Washington.

It’s an idea which has resonated with American public and economic experts alike. Economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth recently made the case for a Balanced Budget Amendment in an op-ed for In it she wrote that “additional certainty about fiscal policy would make investment and consumption decisions easier, and would facilitate economic growth and job creation.”  While the unemployment rate in Ohio stands at 8.8 percent, businesses and investors need to be reassured about the nation’s financial health. Congress should be taking every step available to help spur much needed job creation – including reigning in spending.

Furthermore, the Constitutional amendment can only be removed by revisiting the amendment process.  David Primo, an Associate Professor of Political Science and Business Administration of the University of Rochester and George Mason University told the House Judiciary Committee in May that a constitutional amendment would help ensure meaningful budget reforms “will not be undone by future Congresses.” This Amendment amounts to a padlock on the national piggy bank. No longer can IOU’s be stuffed inside for future generations to pay.

Because of our government’s addiction to spending, we have not only seen our economic recovery threatened, but the prospect of our AAA credit rating being downgraded. This rating, the highest there is, results in the lowest possible interest rates for borrowing for both the government and consumers. If our credit rating were to be downgraded for the first time in history, home buyers, businesses, and anyone else who has to finance a transaction would see increased borrowing costs and would be less likely to make purchases. Already, major credit rating agencies such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have threatened to reevaluate our rating if we do not begin to take steps to control our debt.

The Founding Fathers even recognized the danger of leaving a legacy of government debt. Thomas Jefferson acknowledged this as “among the fundamental principles of government,” and that “we should consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts, and morally bound to pay them ourselves.” Already we have failed to heed his warning that we must pay our debts. The Balanced Budget Amendment is a commonsense solution which would help make sure we do not find ourselves in this position again. I do not wish to see future generations working to pay off the debt of past generations. No longer can we afford to kick the can down the road when it comes to realistically dealing with the problem of our national debt. The time has come to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Congressman Michael R. Turner represents Ohio’s Third Congressional District.