Heidi Heitkamp Supports Balanced Budget Amendment That Wouldn’t Really Balance The Budget


It’s a bit ironic to hear Democrat Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp say that she supports a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution. This is typically a Republican issue, though it’s been clear that Heitkamp seems intent on eschewing her past as a cheerleader for Obamacare and campaign like a Republican this cycle. But more than that, the Democrat Heitkamp hopes to replace in the Senate, Kent Conrad, was twice the pivotal vote on a balanced budget amendment and twice decided against it.

Conrad, who is nominally in favor of balanced budgets, could always find some niggling objection to balanced budget amendments with which to justify his opposition. So when I read that Heitkamp is in favor of a balanced budget amendment, but with exceptions, it makes me think that she’s just Kent Conrad all over again. Someone who will talk a big game about fiscal responsibility, but will find excuses to avoid it when it comes to making a real decision.

FARGO – Democrat Heidi Heitkamp delivered a few campaign pledges today about what she’d do to promote budget control if she’s elected to the U.S. Senate.

Specifically, Heitkamp said she would support a form of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, along with other cuts to congressional office spending.

“Where in the past, I haven’t always been a big fan of amending the Constitution to take care of things that legislators and public servants can do all on their own … I’ve been persuaded in the last year,” Heitkamp said in a conference call with state and national reporters.

The problem with Heitkamp’s stance is that she wants to exempt war time and entitlement spending from balanced budgets:

However, Heitkamp said she would want some flexibility in requiring a balanced budget, so exceptions could be made in the case of wartime and entitlement spending.

In supporting such a measure, Heitkamp said she wants to exempt Social Security and Medicare, so there’s no impact on those spending obligations.

What Heitkamp wants is a balanced budget amendment that wouldn’t actually address our nation’s biggest spending problems, which are entitlements.

If we cut every single penny of discretionary spending – the only sort of spending Heitkamp wants her proposed balanced budget amendment to apply to – including highway spending, military spending, national parks spending, etc., etc. but left entitlement spending alone we’d still be running a budget deficit.

The much anticipated Ryan budget set to be introduced in Congress would lower discretionary spending to $1.028 trillion. This is lower than $1.047 limit for discretionary spending cuts agreed to in the debt deal last year, which is something that has Senator Conrad angry. But whether discretionary spending is set at $1.028 trillion or $1.047 trillion, the fact of the matter is that both those figures are hundreds of billions lower than the entire federal budget deficit for the next FY which is projected by the CBO to be over $1.3 trillion.

Spending on Social Security, Medicare and interest on the national debt alone is $2.3 trillion.

What Heitkamp is proposing wouldn’t fix anything because it doesn’t address the nation’s largest spending problem, which is entitlement spending.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    She supports this as much as Nd’s three stooges in Congress did. Who is she trying to kid?

  • http://randysroundtable.blogspot.com/ Randy G

    Exempt entitlements? There lies the problem…She is either clueless or pandering. 

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Well she’s hoping people will just see the “balanced budget” part of the headline and not realize that she’s not for balancing the largest part of the budget.

    • Opinionated

      pandering and clueless and runing from the Obamacare that she actually supports… Do you suppose that she has a whiteboard at home that tells her what she is for and against in case she gets confused?

      • Wesley Fargo

        “Do you suppose that she has a whiteboard at home that tells her what she is for and against in case she gets confused? ”

        Nope, an IPad App so she can carry it with her, and if she has to, can twitter the 3 Amigos or DNC for advise.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          I’m still just amazed that she’s saying she’s for a balanced budget amendment…that exempts 2/3’s of the budget from having to be balanced.

  • Irritated

    I object to the characterization of Social Security as an entitlement. It is a savings plan many of us have been forced to invest in all our lives. The fact that Congress joined that trust fund with the general fund does not remove responsibility to support SS. I really oppose Obama cutting the personal contribution to SS as a tax cut to buy votes during a time when that system needs all the funding it can get. 

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Aren’t all of us taxed to pay for every entitlement?  Why is Social Security really any different?

      And I sympathize with your feelings.  I’m being forced to pay into SS too, and I’m not any happier about it than you are.  But we can’t maintain the status quo.

      Social Security shouldn’t be exempt.

    • Opinonated

      Exactly.. this guy will blame others but he is actually defunding SS right now but people are to stupid to realize that. It will all blow up one day and the finger pointing will start but the checks will stop… and that will be the real tragedy….they need to get out of the way so people can go back to working, and spending, and saving, and being free to decide what to do with their money..

  • Guest

    Didn’t she list a bunch of things at the liberal convention that she would support?  How can you support all of these things and still balance the budget?  Plus didn’t she say that we need more politicians like Kent Conrad and less like Rick Berg?  Yet Conrad hasn’t done anything with the budget in years and Berg has tried to push for a balance budget.  So she wants more Conrad politics? 
    Bill Clinton is a great liar.  Earl Pomeroy isn’t bad.  Heidi and Joel Heitkamp rank up there with the best of them.  Two born liars.