Publius-Huldah's Blog

Understanding the Constitution

Balanced Budget Amendments (BBA) Gut Our Constitution And Don’t Reduce Spending

By Publius Huldah

Q:  Doesn’t our Constitution already provide for controlling federal spending?
A:  Yes.  It lists the purposes for which Congress may spend money.  Spending is limited by the “enumerated powers” listed in the Constitution:

  • If it’s on the list of powers delegated to Congress or the President, Congress may lawfully appropriate funds for it.  Read the Constitution and highlight the delegated powers – then you will know what Congress may lawfully spend money on.
  • If it’s not listed, Congress may not lawfully spend money on it.

Q: What is the connection between the Oath of office (Art. VI, cl. 3) and federal spending?
A: All federal and State officials take an Oath to support the federal Constitution.  The Constitution lists what Congress may lawfully spend money on.  When people in Congress spend money on objects not listed in the Constitution; and when State officials accept federal funds for objects not listed (race to the top, common core, etc.) they violate their Oath to support the Constitution.

Q:  Are the federal departments of Education, Agriculture, Labor, Energy, Housing & Urban Development, Health & Human Services, DHS, etc., etc., constitutional?
A:  No!

  • Power over education, agriculture, labor relations, energy, etc., etc., was NOWHERE in the Constitution delegated to the federal government.  Those powers were reserved by the States or the People.
  • DHS – a national police force under the President’s control – is becoming our version of the East German STASI. Yet the States colluded with the feds in nationalizing law enforcement because they wanted the federal funds and military equipment.

Q:  How did we get a national debt of over $17 trillion, plus trillions more in unfunded liabilities?
A:  Congress spent on objects for which it has no constitutional authority, such as teaching Chinese prostitutes how to drink responsibly, bailouts of private businesses, welfare handouts, farming programs, education schemes, and grants paid to States to bribe them into implementing unconstitutional federal programs.  It was the unconstitutional spending which gave us this crushing debt.

Q: The 10th Amendment says all powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the States or to the People.  What happened to these reserved powers?
A: The States sold them to the federal government. The States have become administrative subdivisions of the federal government, and their aim is to siphon as much money as possible from the federal government.

Q: What should we do about the unconstitutional spending?
A:  We must eliminate pork.  We must systematically dismantle unconstitutional federal departments & agencies.  Except that the Department of Education should be shut down, and its bureaucrats sent home, by this Friday at 5:00 p.m.  All these functions must be restored to The States or The People.

Why BBAs Are Destructive

Q: Why won’t a BBA fix our debt problem?
A: They don’t address the cause of the problem: Congress spends where they have no constitutional authority to spend.  The BBAs don’t eliminate the unconstitutional spending; and they place no limits on the amount of the unconstitutional spending.

Q: Is a BBA harmful?
A:  Yes.  All versions of the BBA legalize spending which is now illegal and unconstitutional as outside the scope of powers delegated to Congress or the President.

Q: Would a BBA fundamentally transform our Constitution?
A:  Yes.  All versions of the BBA amend out the enumerated powers limitations on the federal government and transform the federal government into one of general & unlimited powers where the feds may spend money on whatever they want as long as they don’t exceed the spending limits “imposed” by the BBA.

Q: So a BBA changes the constitutional criterion for spending?
A:  Yes!  All versions of the BBA change the criterion from:

  • WHAT Congress spends money on (it must be an enumerated power), to
  • A LIMIT on total spending where Congress can spend money on whatever they want.

Q:  How are spending limits in the various versions of the BBA set?

  • by the amount they take from us in taxes, or
  • by a certain percentage of the GDP, or
  • by the additional amounts they borrow to finance their spending.

Q: Can these limits on spending be raised?
A:  Yes!  In all versions of the BBA, Congress can vote to raise the spending limit (just as they vote every few months to raise the debt limit).  In the version of the BBA by Nick Dranias and Compact for America, Congress and at least 26 States can vote at any time to raise the spending limit.

Not only do the BBAs fail to address the cause of the problem (Congress spends on unconstitutional objects); none of them limit the amount of Congress’ spending because the spending limits can be raised whenever they want to raise them.

So!  Just as Congress votes every few months to raise the debt ceiling; they can vote whenever they want to raise the spending limit.

Q: What about Mark Levin’s amendment “to limit federal spending” (page 73 of his book)?
A:  Levin’s amendment makes lawful the spending which is now unconstitutional.  And his amendment does nothing to control spending:

  • Levin substitutes a “budget” [which permits spending on whatever people in the federal government want] 1 for the enumerated powers listed in the Constitution; and,
  • While it pretends to limit spending to income, it actually permits Congress to suspend the spending limit and to continue to raise the national debt limit.

So!  Like all other BBAs, Levin’s legalizes the present unconstitutional spending and does nothing to curb spending.  It legalizes the status quo.  And it guts our Constitution by erasing the enumerated powers limitations on spending.

Q: What about Randy Barnett’s version of a BBA?  [See Barnett’s 8th amendment here.]
A: Randy Barnett, law professor, redefines “unbalanced budget” to mean a budget where the national debt is greater than it was the previous year.  [Yes, you read that right.]

Barnett’s amendment doesn’t address the unconstitutional spending which caused the massive debt.

And it delegates sweeping new powers to the President to stop funding anything he doesn’t want funded.  E.g., it permits him to ban appropriations authorized by the Constitution, such as all funding for our military (which is authorized by Art. I, Sec. 8, clauses 11-14).

Q: What is the real purpose of all versions of the BBA?
A:  The sole purpose is to remove the enumerated powers limitations on the federal government and give it general & unlimited powers.

Folks! You must read the texts of the proposed BBAs and see what they actually say.  Do not stop with the name and just read in your own understanding of what it means to “balance a budget”.

For more information on various versions of the BBA see:


1 The federal government didn’t have a budget until the Budget Act of 1921, which purported to grant budget making power (taxes & appropriations) to the President.

The Budget Act is unconstitutional.  Article I, Sec. 8, cl. 1, delegates to Congress Power to lay and collect Taxes; and Art. I, Sec. 9, next to last clause, delegates to Congress Power to make appropriations:

“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”

Before the Budget Act of 1921, Congress made appropriations for items listed in the Constitution as the need arose; determined the taxes, and kept records of both. PH

Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to MySpaceAdd to NewsvineAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter

February 19, 2014 - Posted by | Balanced Budget Amendment | , , ,


  1. I have been saying much of what is articulated here for a very long time. The problem as I see it is that the government is made up of imperfect human beings. And to that problem is the fact that STATES have not done their due diligence in demanding accountability of the central government’s infractions of the Constitution causing injury to the people. And of course the people have not demanded accountability of those imperfect humans in States’ Governments.

    Only three years ago I said to a”listening tour’ help by our Speaker of the House in Mississippi you have become nothing more than supervisory boards to the Federal Governments whims, because you do not follow the Constitution, your predecessors took the bait with promises of revenue not generated within the States, because we have not done a good job in trying to preserve freedom enough for the human imagination to run free to imagine how to start the individual businesses that have been the lfef-blood of this country since the 1620″a, immediately after the failure of the Mayflower compact.

    Either the USA is going to continue its decline as a world power by freeing its citizens of over reaching and manipulative governance or it will go the way of Rome. Right now it looks pretty much the adoption of Roman debacle is the direction we are pursuing.

    Doubling down on the regulatory state without any hope of checks and balances while snooping into the lives, the hoes and even the bedrooms of its citizens will not result in a more productive populous.

    I believe the States could have a very effective prescription IF they took a year off from writing bills and used that year to read, learn, practice the ideas of true freedom as it was envisioned by the Founders and Framers, who took the Great Thinkers as known at the time, DeTocqueville, Locke, Voltaire, even those within their midsts, to focus on what man really needs in the way of Societal governance from outside himself. If we REALLY studied the methodology and writings of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Documents, Kentucky resolutions, the failure of the Articles of Confederation, imagined the freedom as Adams, Washington Jefferson, Franklin imagined while pin-pointing the infringements on personal freedom they fully felt by the demands of largesse and loyalty to the King. And I think one of the most greatly abandoned principles of that time is PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, especially with regard to the phrase, “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” When that is a true value and expectation of Society’s norm, we have some hope of seeing that translated into governmental ethics.

    And for us this is much easier with this age of incredible technology and 235+ years of experience. I would say we have failed our own technology, by not using it to the fullest possible, acknowledging it provides so much opportunity to correct when course when going off the rails. Personal adherence to the principles when the temptation of cutting corners is difficult. Taking bribes from the federal government for whatever program your state is deficient, not referencing Article 1, Section 8 when an unusual possibility presents itself. And then of course there is always the lack of attention being paid when the central government attempts to reach down into the States under the misinterpretation of the Commerce clause, or the general welfare clause.

    What then comes to mind after all this is: NO ONE can legislate adherence to morality to the the law, even if it is fully understood. So WHAT IS the effective enforcement mechanism?


    Comment by lgcvano | February 19, 2014 | Reply

    • AMEN! a thousand AMENS!
      The brilliant system our Framers gave us depended on the personal morality of the American People. Our Framers all knew it.
      We started moving away from the Faith of our Fathers with the Unitarians in the early 1820s. They denied than man was fallen – they said evil comes from the environment. Fix the environment – and man will be perfected.
      I say a pox on them and their poisonous words. These lying Unitarian theories are the basis of modern liberalism.
      Where were the pastors when this poison was taking over our Land?


      Comment by Publius Huldah | February 20, 2014 | Reply

  2. The people that are pushing for a Balanced Budget Amendment are the same ones pushing for Constitutional Convention, and their actions show just how little they know about our Constitution. The Constitution is written in a clear and concise language that seems to be lost on them. Of course our elected officials also seem to have this problem, but the difference is, they swore an oath to support and protect a Constitution they do not understand or refuse to understand. This give us the right to ask, are they just plain ignorant or are they dishonorable or maybe both.


    Comment by L.E. Liesner | February 19, 2014 | Reply

    • I expect they are both. They uncritically absorbed what they have been told – they all believe the same things – they do not think independently. Fact is, I don’t believe they “think” at all – I believe they conform to what others in their circle believe. I have never met a one of them who could think. The dishonorable part come in b/c of their unwillingness to deal honestly with facts.


      Comment by Publius Huldah | February 19, 2014 | Reply

  3. Dear Pubilius – You have become a cause celebre’ on Facebook. I have been posting all the links for the papers that you have written on the Con-Con, the Article V convention, and the BBA,. I am seeing them on all the conservative pages on FB and not a few “unconservative”pages. Keep up the good work, hopefully your message is getting out.

    Chris J


    Comment by Chris J | February 19, 2014 | Reply

  4. Reblogged this on SiriusCoffee and commented:
    I’ve always thought that a Balanced Budget Amendment would only restrict the government from spending more than it’s revenue, addressing deficit spending only. If it expands the constitutional authority to spend outside the narrow limits as defined, then it’s a very bad thing.


    Comment by Brad S. | February 19, 2014 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: