August 22, 2011

"If you think balanced-budget amendments are the stuff of madmen or dreamers, you were in for a surprise this month."

Writes Bloomberg columnist/Harvard lawprof Noah Feldman.
No, not the requirement of the U.S. debt-ceiling agreement that Congress vote up or down on such an amendment -- everyone knows that proposal will be dead on arrival. Rather, it was the joint recommendation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy that all 17 euro-area members adopt constitutional amendments by next summer that would require balanced budgets by specific target dates.

In the context of the world’s current economic troubles, how could responsible, economically sophisticated leaders think it is a good idea to impose an inflexible constitutional debt ceiling? Merkel and Sarkozy are, after all, a far cry from Rick Perry.
Read the whole thing. Proposing an amendment — even passing it — doesn't make anything actually happen, Feldman informs us. "Constitutional commitments are only convincing when they credibly correspond to elite interests over the long haul."

27 comments:

Scott M said...

In other words...that whole "rule of law" thing is just an illusion and we prols should just get used to the idea.

ricpic said...

Hey, we're the elite and we don't buckle to no geedamned law, it buckles to us!

Lucius said...

Oh, that's good to know!

Just so we know who we're dealing with . . .

Pogo said...

"Constitutional commitments are only convincing when they credibly correspond to elite interests over the long haul."

Spoken like a modern American.

Scott M said...

Spoken like a modern American.

That should be quantified a bit more, don't you think?

Lucius said...

He even concedes that the European political elites see the amendments as in their current interests.

So what is he really urging, that they pull up and reconsider their longer-term interests?

If he had dismissed the whole thing as a cynical ploy that would be different. He seems to head in that direction, but pull back.

So what do Sarkozy and Merkel know that "elite" American opinion does not?

--And should I buy the idea that somehow Germany is *ceding* sovereignty by imposing such measures?

Pogo said...

That is, our Constitution is defunct, dead, and by that I mean "living".

We don't own our property, the SCOTUS says the State can take my house whenever it wants. We can be forced to buy something we don't want (state-mandated health insurance). I do not have a right to self-defense.

What is left?

I can choose my own music?

This constitution is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! Its a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If we hadn't nailed it to the perch it'd be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now history! Its off the twig! It's kicked the bucket, It's shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-CONSTITUTION!!

Lucius said...

@Pogo: You're not planning to listen to something *reactionary*, are you?

Is there a whitehouse.gov list of approved tunes?

Maybe Michelle's booty-blast mix?

Jay said...

In the context of the world’s current economic troubles, how could responsible, economically sophisticated leaders think it is a good idea to impose an inflexible constitutional debt ceiling?

Um, because the debt is what is causing some of the economic problems maybe?

Note how it can not be questioned that government spending helps the economy.

Bizarre.

MadisonMan said...

It's very easy to pass an amendment. (For some definition of easy).

It's a lot harder to decide what to cut on your way to balancing the budget. This is where present-day politicians lose their will. Maybe hiding behind the Constitution would help.

Pogo said...

Reactionary music?

No, it will all be from the Approved List of inclusive, diverse, green, sustainable, world citizen songs.

This land is State land, this land ain't my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for the DNC

Pogo said...

I forgot gay-friendly.
The music will be definitely laudatory of the gay.

Please don't jail me.

Hagar said...

Any balanced budget amendment will have to contain an emergency exception clause, and so will not be worth "a jug-full of warm spit."
It will not even slow them down, but just lead to more barefaced fraudulent accounting and/or an endless string of "emergencies."

The way to balance the budget is to quit jabbering and just balance the budget.

OldGrouchyCranky said...

@Pogo: No, you won't be jailed. However, turn over your bank account and all your other monies as that is the size of your fine! Payable by noon tomorrow, or off you'll go.

Next case!

MikeinAppalachia said...

"Constitutional commitments are only convincing when they credibly correspond to elite interests over the long haul."
Guess that explains what has happened to the 10th, 14th,and other amendments of the US Constitution over the years.

Pogo said...

OldGrouchyCranky, what if I watch Glee and buy all their music from now on??

OldGrouchyCranky said...

@Pogo: That's one way to go brain-dead, of course the other is to become a socialist!!! Or, voting for Hillary does mean that they'll make you brain-dead for sure.

Freder Frederson said...

We don't own our property, the SCOTUS says the State can take my house whenever it wants

You do realize that the constitution authorizes eminent domain seizure of property (with "just compensation of course).

virgil xenophon said...

POGO@7:34 distills with one quote and accompanying comment the exact zeitgeist of our times--at least insofar as it applies to modern political "elites," lol.

Canuck said...

Germany and France are not making moves that will allow the Eurozone to survive.

I give the Euro 18 months to 3 years. Gonna be bumpy when Spain goes down. Hold on to your hats.

Scott M said...

Gonna be bumpy when Spain goes down. Hold on to your hats.

Hemingway would be spinning in his grave, but only so he can hit multiple people in the face as quickly and manly as possible.

edutcher said...

Living with in one's means.

What a concept!

Well, considering how the appellate courts have prostituted many of the Amendments, we shouldn't be surprised Feldman is all for it with this one.

David R. Graham said...

Elites' long-haul interests have not corresponded to the Constitution for a long time. Subordinating its import to their interests, in the name of textual precision and intentional divination (aka sophistry), has engaged elites' attentions for the same long time. Feldman is remarking the obvious. Ann knew that quote would arouse the readers, and it did, but far less so than I imagined it would have.

When academics want to shove the broken neck of a bottle up your ass, or drive a red hot poker into your heart, they have such elegant language to accompany the act, to make it sound inevitable and reasonable.

The world is full of demonic personalities. They call themselves elites and they are serious about that. In the likes of Saddam Hussein, Moamar Gaddafi and Barak Hussein Obama they have their ideal leadership. I say let them at it. Don't get riled, don't oppose them. Observe developments.

Matt said...

@MikeinAppalachia - or the 27th.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
buck smith said...

Here is my proposed amendment.
1. When the amendment is passed we have a national popular election where federal spending as a percentage of GDP is set at the
a. The Post WWII average
b. The average of the Bush-Obama years
2. Every 4 years after we have a national popular election where federal spending as a percentage of GDP is set to
a. + 1 percent of GDP of the current value
b. – 1 percent of GDP of the current value
c. No change
The genius of my idea is how it changes the incentives in Washington. In between the 4 year elections federal spending can only grow if the economy does. The electorate is only likely to vote an increase in the percentage of GDP that the feds can take if they believe they will spend it wisely.

Majid Ali said...

Please help me for Christ sake