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Letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights on the Balanced Budget Amendment

November 29, 2011

Dear Senator:

In advance of this week’s hearing in the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, we would like to express our strong opposition to any constitutional balanced budget amendment.  While we understand the need to get our nation's fiscal house in order, such proposals are not the right mechanism.  The effect would be devastating for public education and retirement security, undermining economic recovery and jeopardizing our future strength as a nation. 

Overall, a balanced budget amendment could result in the largest cuts in federal spending in modern history.  In fact, it simply will not be possible to achieve the spending levels required under any balanced budget amendment without massive cuts in education, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other programs that meet crucial national needs. 

Educators understand that Congress must work to ensure America’s long-term economic prosperity and that we must address the nation’s serious fiscal challenges.  However, cutting education funding and slashing programs that serve children, seniors, and working families is not the answer.  Claims that families and states balance their budgets are misleading.  Most families have mortgages and car loans, and take on other debt to provide for their children’s futures.  In addition, while many states must balance their operating budgets, they take on debt for capital costs and job-creating projects such as building roads, bridges, and schools.

NEA members see first-hand every day the struggles of many of their students and their families.  A balanced budget amendment will make their struggles even harder - essentially abandoning them while continuing to cater to the wealthiest in our nation. 

Mandating a balanced budget would constitute exceedingly unwise economic policy.  It would risk tipping a faltering economy into recession and slowing economic recovery.  It would determine spending levels for decades and tie future Congress’ hands.  And, it would render impossible the sorts of investments necessary to continue economic recovery and grow the skilled workforce necessary for future economic strength. 

A balanced budget amendment would decimate public education and other programs that ensure a competitive workforce and future economic vitality.  We urge your opposition to any such proposal.


Kim Anderson        
Director, Center for Advocacy

Mary Kusler
Manager of Federal Advocacy