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Rick Santorum: By amending constitution, we can balance the budget for good

November 28. 2011 9:20PM

Last summer, we saw a great groundswell of national support to get our fiscal house in order by cutting and capping federal spending and passing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. However, the President refused to lead and instead pushed the tough decisions to a bureaucratic Washington committee to solve the problem, and though it was named the 'Supercommittee' it couldn't even agree on cutting Post-It Notes from the office supply closet. Now, because of the inaction, we are faced with drastic defense cuts at a time when reports show a nuclear Iran has emerged as a clear and present danger.

I supported the 'Cut, Cap, and Balance' movement, but the reality is that what we really need is 'Balance, Balance, Grow' - because without a balanced budget amendment, and a path to economic prosperity, we cannot ever trust the government to actively try and balance the federal budget.

Both parties can talk all they want about fiscal responsibility, but passing a balanced budget amendment that requires a supermajority for any tax increase and puts a cap on federal spending at 18 percent of GDP is the only way to permanently ensure that our government cannot grow beyond its means.

Currently, government spending has exploded to nearly 25 percent of GDP and is well on its way to 40 percent. This is unacceptable and must be stopped.

Yes, we should cut spending now, but our ultimate goal is to shrink the size and scope of the federal government forever, and passing a balanced budget amendment will permanently cap spending and ensure that our government cannot grow beyond its means.

This cornerstone of my economic policy ultimately empowers the American family and builds economic freedom.

A balanced budget amendment is a long-term, permanent fix to over-spending, and it would not be a 'draconian' method because it would not happen overnight. The process to pass and ratify a constitutional amendment will take six to eight years. That not only gives our government time to put our budget on a glide-path to fiscal responsibility, but it sets a deadline for our representatives to get the job done.

The best part of my plan to balance the budget is that it will actually work. The first bill I cosponsored in the Senate was the balanced budget amendment, but we came within one vote of passing it. Sadly, the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, a Republican, was the deciding 'no' vote. I stood up and called for him to resign his chairmanship because I am not afraid to lead, fight for fiscal responsibility and expose members of my own party when they spend like liberals.

Passing a balanced budget amendment will also force our government to address the entitlement crisis crippling our economy. For years, every member of Congress has been afraid of touching entitlements because it is considered the 'third rail of politics.' But with the passage of the balanced budget amendment, we'll be forced to address this crucial piece of the fiscal puzzle. I know that we can make the tough choices necessary to restructure and save those programs because we've done it before. In 1996, I led the fight to reform the welfare system, ending dependency for millions and providing them with avenues to get back to work. I led that fight and got conservative results despite opposition from a popular President, Bill Clinton, who vetoed the bill twice.

And finally, we must implement policies to immediately grow our economy, and this starts with revitalizing our manufacturing sector, which can be the great multiplier on our economy. Yes, we must make more things in America again, but first, we must create an environment that breeds more opportunity here at home. We must eliminate the corporate tax for manufacturers, eliminate all Obama-era regulations that cost business more than $100 million a year, and eliminate the excise tax on overseas profits when those revenues are reinvested in American plants and equipment. We must also make sure the government is not in the way of energy production, and instead increase all forms of energy exploration: whether oil, natural gas, coal, etc. We must reduce the cost of energy across the board for everyone who goes to the pump to fill up their automobile and for the manufacturing plant that produces the automobile itself. This will jump-start our economy, broaden our tax base and, most importantly, rebuild the great middle of our society that has been lost along with our manufacturing jobs over the past 40 years.

You can trust my commitment to getting this economy going again, and together we can finish the job we came so close to completing: passing a balanced budget amendment, which is the only way to keep our budget under control for good.

Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, is running for the Republican nomination for President.

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