As part of the debt-ceiling deal President Obama signed yesterday, Republicans demanded (and will get) a vote by the end of the year on one of their holiest of grails: a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. Even if it passed, President Obama's against it, so the vote is likely to be pure politics. Because that's what we've been missing from Washington!
Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, a quote-unquote centrist Democrat, is trying to take that Republican political theater and turn it into a Democratic opportunity. He reportedly told the Washington Post that Democrats have chosen his idea for a balanced-budget amendment:
It...would “protect the revenue and outlays of Social Security from any balanced budget requirement.” And it prohibits Congress from providing income tax breaks for people earning over $1 million a year unless the country is enjoying budget surpluses.“What I’m proposing is the most responsible, thoughtful, and workable balanced budget amendment,” Udall said.
"The way I see it is American families have to balance their own checkbooks, especially in hard times, and the federal government doesn't have to do the same thing..."
Steve Benen argues today that Democrats "would be fools" to see the next phase as anything other than a fight. Setting himself up as a fiscal hawk might work, politically, for Senator Udall. The effect for his party is not so clear.