On Thursday April 12, the House of Representatives failed to gather the 2/3 yea votes required to pass H.J.Res.2, a 2018 balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the Constitution.
Despite having 65 cosponsors, the BBA collapsed under serious objections the proposal sought to balance the budget on the backs of Americans, specifically seniors.
After passing a controversial omnibus spending bill–a budget plan laying out $1.3 trillion in expenditures some say will spike the deficit for years to come–Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced the BBA in January in an effort to limit or prohibit future deficits.
The BBA proposes a Constitutional amendment that prohibits federal spending from exceeding revenues (by mandating federal spending be offset with revenue collected in the same fiscal year), prohibits spending from exceeding 20% of the GDP, and requires 3/5 majorities to raise the debt limit.
Immediately, seniors advocacy groups, members of the public, and several Congressmen and women condemned the proposal, calling it an outrageous attempt to rob surplus Social Security funds and slash benefits.
If the BBA were passed, they claim, it would be unconstitutional for any surplus Social Security securities to be used to pay benefits.
After FICA revenue is used to pay benefits, the Trust Funds redeem these securities to pay the balance current revenue can’t meet. Under the BBA, this would be deemed spending exceeding revenue and using revenue collected outside of the current fiscal year to pay current debts. The BBA would prohibit Social Security surpluses from being used to pay benefits.
Without the surplus to cover the shortfall, Social Security would be forced to severely scale back benefits to ensure spending didn’t exceed revenues for the year.
That’s why critics call the BBA a two-pronged weapon: one prong completely robs the Trust Fund of trillions in surplus savings and the other forces draconian cuts to Social Security.
On April 12, several House Representatives stepped up to speak out against the BBA and in defense of Social Security and the senior Americans who earned it–notably Rep. John Larson (D-CT), who issued a fiery condemnation against anyone who would forget the second letter in “FICA” stands for insurance–NOT entitlement.
Take a look at what some of our Representatives had to say in support of Social Security: