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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