Pawlenty launches online balanced budget amendment petition

Categories: T-Paw

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Former vice president Dick Cheney once famously said that Ronald Reagan proved "deficits don't matter."

Now comes Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has taken his love affair with the idea of a federal balanced budget amendment to the Internet with the launch of an online petition. This morning he gets some help along the way with a featured column in the new political news Web site The Daily Caller. It's all part of a phantom presidential campaign which he hasn't formally announced, but for which he has set up a Political Action Committee to raise funds.

Insisting that the federal budget deficit a crisis that cannot be ignored, he says, "The average American household now carries over half-a-million dollars in Federal debt. And it's growing quickly: The Obama administration is now predicting that the federal budget deficit will exceed $10 trillion through 2019. And that's just the tip of the iceberg: If you look at all of the unfunded liabilities of the Federal government, the national debt right now is already at least $65 trillion."

Pawlenty first promoted a fresh shot at a balanced budget amendment, along with line-item veto power for the president, in December on a New Hampshire radio show.

First, let's remember that former President Bill Clinton campaigned for, and won, the first-ever presidential line-item veto from Congress in 1996. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law as unconstitutional in 1998 by a 6-3 vote.

Second, no previous effort to amend the Constitution so that it requires a balanced budget has ever cleared both houses of Congress with the two-thirds majorities as required by law, let alone been passed along to state legislatures for ratification.

These calls for balancing the federal budget come and go like the tide. Cheney claimed he and President George W. Bush were deficit hawks in a September 2003 interview with NBC's Tim Russert. The following year he told Team Bush's former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, "Reagan proved deficits don't matter."

Bush ran deficits for seven of his eight years in charge of the federal budget. Cheney has said those deficits were justified because the nation was at war. The nation is still bogged down in the wars started during Bush administration, so we'll see where there all leads.


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