Rockefeller Statement On Senate Balanced Budget Amendments

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Jay Rockefeller released the following statement today after voting no on two separate Senate proposals that would amend the U.S. Constitution and create a balanced budget amendment:

“Although these so-called balanced budget amendments sound good at first, once you study the language, you realize how devastating such a change would be for the people of West Virginia and elsewhere. These amendments would slash federal investments in programs that struggling West Virginians rely on each day. They take a sledgehammer to an economy that is still fragile and would hurt families and seniors from coast to coast.

“According to one study, if a balanced budget amendment had been applied during this recession, spending cuts by the government would have resulted in 18 percent unemployment – throwing millions of Americans out of work and ending paychecks for families everywhere. The entire economy would contract and tens of thousands of West Virginians would feel the impact immediately. I can’t support such a reckless policy.

“These new balanced budget amendments would prevent the government from creating jobs in the future and pose an immediate threat to Medicare and Medicaid – which touch the lives of so many West Virginians.”

Senator Rockefeller has consistently voted against balanced budget amendments over the past two decades, always with the support of the late Senator Robert C. Byrd who often lead the charge against them.

These amendments would hurt seniors, working families, veterans and children. They would force Congress to cut all programs by an average of one-fourth by 2018. Under a balanced budget act, the following cuts would be forced upon the budget to fit within the cap:

Medicare would be cut by $169 billion in 2018 and almost $1.1 trillion through 2021

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would be cut by $115 billion in 2018 and more than $700 billion through 2021
Veterans’ benefits would be cut by $19 billion in 2018 and $123 billion through 2021, in addition to cuts that would be made in veterans’ health care

Defense would be cut by almost $900 billion on top of the defense cuts that will occur under sequestration [CBPP, 12/5/11].
Macroeconomic Advisors estimated that the unemployment rate would hit 18 percent or more under a balanced budget framework.

- Press Release from the Office of Jay Rockefeller

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