Remember that scene from Blazing Saddles? (Yes, I know he didn’t say “sheriff.” I’m not up for a PC death match over a stupid word.) The townsfolk, enraged that their new sheriff is “of color,” form a lynch mob and things are looking inescapably grim for the hero (Bart — hilariously played by Cleavon Little).
Without a second to spare, he pulls his gun out and points it at his head and declares “Hold it! Next man makes a move, the [sheriff] gets it!”
In the face of this ruse, the ignorant sod-busters immediately forget their original intentions…
“Isn’t anybody going to help that poor man? ”
“Hush, Harriet! That’s a sure way to get him killed!”
It’s make-your-sides-hurt funny, because it’s so preposterous. I thought.
But in the here and now, the townsfolk were fed up, enraged over the mind-boggling debt tsunami and about to hold the elected aristocracy responsible for the first time, reckoning day threatening to dawn on the entire welfare state, and what does Sheriff Boehner and his deputies pull out of their collective trillion gallon hat and hold to their head? The Balanced Budget Amendment.
In other words, instead of actually spending the same or less revenue than the government takes in, which is the one thing they’re supposed to do, they’re going to promise to hold a gun to their own heads and threaten to shoot themselves if they don’t spend the same or less revenue than the government takes in.
And the rubes fall for it. Again. It’s cry-your-eyes-out sad, because it’s so preposterous.
Here’s how this would work if it really happened…
It would take years to pass through the states. In the meantime, they’ll be spending money like drunken politicians because “sure, the debt’s exploding, but we don’t have to worry about it because the BBA will fix it. ”
The gang that will be holding that gun to their own heads will be writing the language of the amendment. They’ll understand the need to allow for exceptions in extreme circumstances. Like if we go to war, or there’s a nuclear meltdown, or the Big One hits California, etc., etc. No one can imagine all of the possibilities, so it will say something about if everyone agrees it’s an emergency, they won’t have to pull the trigger.
Day one. The bill, after making the state circuit, finally becomes law. There is much rejoicing and self-congratulation and photo ops of the historical event where the government will now force itself to do what it never had the integrity or intention to do before — by holding a gun to its own head.
Treasury Secretary: “Mr. President, members of Congress, we won’t be able to pay the debt, send out Social Security checks, and meet our other obligations unless we immediately make massive and painful spending cuts, end subsidies, close entire federal departments, and completely redefine our entitlement programs, including abolishing many of them. ”
President and Congress: “IT’S AN EMERGENCY!!”
Day three: A few Tea Party folks file a suit insisting that this is not an emergency as contemplated by the amendment, but in fact the exact business-as-usual that the amendment was intended to address.
It will take at least a couple of years to work its way up to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, they’ll be spending money like drunken politicians because “sure, the debt’s exploding, but we don’t have to worry about it because the court will fix it. ”
Two years later, the Supreme Court, having added a liberal due to the Democrats sweeping back in after the backlash over the Chinese foreclosing on the Grand Canyon, rule that Congress must raise income tax rates to 75% on anyone making over $250,000 a year and pass a 90% tax on any estates over $10,000,000 and also a one time “Investment in America” tax of 45% on any IRA or 401k plan balances.
That’s bad, because — even though the minimum wage is now $50 an hour and median household income is $187,000 — gold is at $17,000 and ounce, cigarettes are $100 a pack, and 63% of Americans are still on unemployment since eligibility was extended to a maximum of 1, 099 months due to the recovery still being a little flat. There’s a bit of offset for the pain, however, as the intention to finally address the debt leads Moody’s to upgrade the rating for U.S. debt to CCC+, causing mortgage rates to ease down to 39%.
Americans are finally enraged and dumbfounded enough to start asking how they can possibly do that, but the politicians sadly shake their heads and explain that it’s not their fault and they don’t really want to do it but they have to — it’s in the Constitution.
So you’re standing there looking into the bluest eyes God ever created, thinking about what her world could’ve been if the dollar hadn’t been so badly inflated that its value is now measured in the BTUs it can produce burning it, and she asks:
“Why couldn’t they just have pulled the trigger, Paw Paw?”
“It’s what they do, Baby. It’s what they do.”
Default, you useless dumbasses. It’s our only hope.