Klein on the fiscal soundness of the amendment:
I think “stupid” is the wrong word. “Dangerous” is more like it. And maybe “radical.” This isn’t just a Balanced Budget Amendment. It also includes a provision saying that tax increases would require a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress – so, it includes a provision making it harder to balance the budget – and another saying that total spending couldn’t exceed 18 percent of GDP. No allowances are made for recessions, though allowances are made for wars. Not a single year of the Bush administration would qualify as constitutional under this amendment. Nor would a single year of the Reagan administration. The Clinton administration would’ve had exactly two years in which it wasn’t in violation.
Read that again: Every single Senate Republican has endorsed a constitutional amendment that would’ve made Ronald Reagan’s fiscal policy unconstitutional. That’s how far to the right the modern GOP has swung.
On the regressive impact:
It’s fairly obvious why rules making it hard to pass new taxes would lead to more regressive taxation: If passing taxes is extremely difficult, then passing taxes plus overcoming the opposition of powerful interests becomes almost impossible. And so you focus on passing taxes that don’t arouse powerful interests. In practice, that means passing more regressive taxes, as the poor have less political power than the rich.
On the inevitable judicial intrusion into budgeting:
If you have a constitutional amendment that says the budget needs to be balanced and you don’t balance the budget, the courts get involved to make sure Congress is carrying out its constitutional duties. And if you write into the Constitution that the courts cannot tell Congress to raise taxes, then what you’re saying is that the courts have to tell Congress to cut spending. So when Congress doesn’t balance the budget – and it won’t, because it can’t balance the budget now and this amendment would make that harder – the courts will order spending cuts. It takes judicial activism to dizzying new heights.