11:15 AM EDT, July 22, 2011
For six straight hours on July 19, Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen forcefully led the Democratic floor debate against passage of House Resolution 2560 — the "Cut, Cap, and Balance Act." His biggest problem with the legislation was its requirement for a seemingly onerous balanced budget amendment.
Mr. Van Hollen claimed he wasn't against "garden variety" balanced budget amendments — just this one, because it required limiting annual government spending to an insufficient 18 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.
Well, maybe 18 percent of GDP is too low; that's worth debating. Here's the thing though: HR 2560 does not mandate an18 percent limit. Rep. Van Hollen didn't read the bill all the way through.
If he had — and if he's truly OK with garden variety balanced budget amendments — he'd be proposing one right now so we could end this debt ceiling crisis. Here's what HR 2560 actually says:
"Effective on the date the Archivist of the United States transmits to the States [one of three recent balanced budget amendment proposals] or a similar amendment if it requires that total outlays not exceed total receipts, contains a spending limitation as a percentage of GDP, and requires tax increases be approved by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress for their ratification, [the debt ceiling will be raised $2.4 trillion]."
One should read a bill completely before deciding to oppose it.
Larry Smith, Timonium
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