Balanced Budget Amendment on Center Stage for 2012 Senate Race
Around the State
Republicans looking to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012 think they have found a political advantage in pushing for a federal balanced budget amendment.
Nelson has supported various measures backing a federal balanced budget, including a measure introduced by freshman tea party favorite U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, backing an amendment last month that garnered the support of 58 senators -- including Nelson and nine other Democrats. The proposed amendment would need 67 senators to pass.
Despite Nelson’s support of Lee’s measure, some of the Republican candidates who are looking to challenge the incumbent from Florida are looking to push the issue themselves and hope it pays off come 2012.
Asked about a federal balanced budget amendment on Monday, state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, who is already running for the U.S Senate seat, told Sunshine State News that he would enthusiastically back it.
“I support it,” Haridopolos said about the amendment. “It’ll be the first bill I co-sponsor in the United States Senate.”
During his years in the state Senate, Haridopolos has been actively pushing for a nonbinding resolution from the state, urging the federal government to pass the amendment.
Haridopolos is not the only Republican hopeful calling for the amendment.
“The federal government must learn to live within its means and spend only what it can afford,” insisted former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner late last week. “Washington cannot continue to spend money Americans simply don't have.
“A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution would require Congress to exercise the same common sense and fiscal discipline that Florida families do each day,” continued Hasner. “It would require prioritizing spending on only the most urgent needs and vital functions of government, while forcing non-essential government spending to end.”
Hasner added that, in order for the federal government to rein in spending, more was needed besides the amendment.
“The truth of the matter is that balancing our budget each year would prevent Washington politicians from digging the hole deeper, but it would do next to nothing to attack our growing debt, which is also our nation’s single greatest national security threat,” insisted Hasner, who then fired away at Nelson and other Beltway figures. “Bill Nelson, Barack Obama, congressional Democrats – and yes, too many Republicans – have been on a spending spree that will burden generations of Americans. Cutting spending and attacking our debt isn’t just about making tough choices, it’s about securing the American Dream and preserving it for future generations.
“Cut spending, stop the borrowing, balance the budget and attack the debt,” noted Hasner in conclusion. “The stakes are too high to do anything less.”
While Hasner is almost certain to enter the Republican primary, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan has also left the door open to challenging Nelson.
Buchanan introduced a federal balanced budget amendment in the U.S. House on Wednesday, very similar to a measure being proposed by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. The measure would also limit federal spending to 18 percent of the GDP and mandate that any measure to raise federal taxes be passed by supermajorities of both wings of Congress.
"We can’t wait any longer," said Buchanan. "The time is now for Washington to make the tough choices necessary to balance the budget for taxpayers today and for future generations.
“Each year, billions of taxpayer dollars are spent on waste, fraud and abuse,” added Buchanan. “A balanced budget amendment would force lawmakers to take a hard look at the programs they are funding and hold federal agencies accountable.”
Buchanan has been backing balanced amendments since first taking his seat in 2007.
"A balanced budget amendment is a common-sense measure that will save taxpayer dollars and help ensure the financial security of our children and grandchildren,” insisted Buchanan.
The other candidates looking at joining or already in the race have also been pushing for a federal balanced budget amendment.
During his brief time as an appointed member of the U.S. Senate, George LeMieux introduced a balanced budget amendment and, throughout 2010, made appearances across Florida touting his support for it and other measures to curb federal spending. LeMieux’s measures won the support of fiscal watchdog groups like the Concord Coalition and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
Mike McCalister, a retired army officer who is currently working in business and education who took more than 10 percent of the vote in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, said during that campaign that he backed a federal balanced budget amendment. While McCalister is now running for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race, his campaign could not be reached on Monday.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com or at (850) 727-0859.