Why Didn’t Senator Hoeven Hold Out For A Balanced Budget Amendment?

Back in June Senator John Hoeven joined with Senators Orrin Hatch, Mike Lee and others to endorse a balanced budget amendment. He spoke out about the need for such legislation on the floor of the Senate. “When debt gets over that 90 percent mark, we choke off the kind of private-sector investment that creates jobs and the resources needed to take care of those in need,” said Hoeven at the time. “Forty-nine states have a legal obligation to spend with their means, and the federal government should too.”

But today even as his compatriots – Senators Lee and Hatch – voted against the Budget Control Act coming out of the House due to its lack of a balanced budget requirement Senator Hoeven abandoned them and voted for it.

“For the first time, we’re requiring that reductions, that savings, be made before we agree to increase the debt ceiling,” said Hoeven in justifying his vote to ABC News though he still says the country needs a balanced budget amendment. “We had a balanced budget requirement in our state. This country I believe needs to have a balanced budget requirement as well.”

My question for Hoeven is, if not now then when? His colleague in the Senate, Kent Conrad, has spent his entire career talking about needing to get the country on the right fiscal track. Twice in Conrad’s career, in 1995 and 1997, he had an opportunity to make a balanced budget amendment possible. He failed both times. This, as far as I’m concerned, is Hoeven’s first failure.

Note that Senator Orrin Hatch is facing some serious push-back from the tea party in Utah, where Hatch’s former colleague Bob Bennet was ousted after being challenged in a primary by Lee, which may explain why he stood his ground on the BBA.

Maybe Hoeven needs the same sort of competition to get him in line.

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. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Brenarlo

    “For the first time, we’re requiring that reductions, that savings, be made before we agree to increase the debt ceiling,” said Hoeven.

    Hoeven is not dumb.  He knows that the deal that was reached doesn’t do any of the things in that quote.  And that’s exactly how a Big Government US Senator sitting on the Appropriations Committee wants it.

    • Bingo

      You are exactly correct. Hoeven is a pragmatist. Good for him and for us. Hopefully!! Get in there and get something done that CAN be done and then move to get more Tea Party types and Repubs in there to do the work of the balanced budget after 2012 elections. I hate to be pessimistic, but I’m afraid that the markets are tanking because the congress and Obama didn’t do enough in budget cuts and in balancing the budget. It might be too late. It might be that over the last decade or more, the writing was on the wall, and those in power did nothing about the entitlements, the war spending, etc. so we may be headed for a crashy crash no matter the deal just completed in congress. This will be on the Democrats shoulders largely for refusing to deal with entitlements and for increasing the Federal gov. under Obama to incredibly unsustainable levels. But the Bush war spending is a HUGE part of the problem and one that Repubs like McCain need to won up to. Make love not war, right? War is harmful to children and all living things. Seriously, though, yes, we needed to do something about Saddam and Afghanistan, but it’s taken too long, too much treasury, and too much soldier and citizen suffering. Enough. Get the Greeks over there to fight. They need something to do and to get paid to do.

  • Dakotacyr

    Take your best shot!

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I think it’s funny how defensive North Dakota liberals are of Hoeven.

  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    Conrad = Hoeven = Dorgan = Reid = Feinstein etc etc etc

    • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

      You know I am beginning to think that most of these politicians are out of touch an no better than the next one.

  • Jimmmypop

    its that we ‘little people’ just dont understand how dc works…….

  • Brent

    Q:  “Why didn’t Hoeven hold out for a Balanced Budget Amendment?”

    A:  He’s an empty suit and he doesn’t care.

    In Hoeven’s defense – and I’m glad you pointed this out, Rob – Hatch would have voted with Hoeven, too, if Bennett hadn’t been taken out in 2010 and Hatch wasn’t himself up in 2012.

    • Bingo

      What is an empty suit? Do you even know? John Hoeven is no empty suit—he is a man of integrity who is not a radical nut–but I suppose that is what you want. The country is so used to polarization, that the ethos of the group is to be radical  or you’re nothing at all.

  • DopeyDem

    Congress should only be in session for 6 months of the year. The rest of the time the Senators and Representatives should be back in their home districts begging to keep their jobs. It should be mandatory that they show up at the circus dunk tank once a week. All of the current problems in DC can be traced back to the inception of C-Span. Hollywood for the ugly is right.

  • Cal Schaible

    I have to defend Senator Hatch and his stand on the BBA. There has been no more loyal supporter of the BBA than Hatch. I have watched this battle for over 15 years now and Hatch has always been at the head of those pushing for the issue. This is not a matter of politics with Hatch – he is a true believer.

  • Ratbite

    You expected John “Big Government” Hoeven to be part of the solution to our government’s constant over spending. Boy are you naive. Did not the last two state budgets Hoeven signed call for spending of increases of over 30% & over 20%?? & you expected him to cut spending. Get your head out of the sand. The first thing he did when he got to DC was to come out in support of earmarks.RINO’s like Hoeven are the problem not the solution. I wonder what excuse he’ll come up with for opposing the Balanced Budget Amendment.

  • dirkadirka

    Does the Entity that Occupies the Whitehouse have hypnotic powers over these clowns or something.  He and Rham Emanuel, David Axlerod, Harry Ried, Nancy Pelosi, etc. must be really having a ball at his birthday party tonight. This blatant power grab that Hoeven voted for with this phony debt crisis debacle is really shameful.  This gang of 12 (Super Committee or Super Congress) with EOTW overseeing as #13 scares the hell out of me with all the powers they will have. Regular Congress might as will stay home. What a sad day for anyone that believes in our Constitution and Capitalism (not Crony Capitalism). The Tea Party won nothing!

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