What those who ignorantly support the Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) overlook is that our Constitution is one of enumerated powers only. That means that everything which we authorized the federal government to do is actually listed in the Constitution.
Look at Art. I, Sec. 8, clauses 3-16: It lists – itemizes – most of the powers WE THE PEOPLE delegated to Congress.
Now this is the Key: Congress is authorized to spend money only on the enumerated objects of its powers. I.e., Congress may spend money on operating a patent office because issuing patents and copyrights is an enumerated power delegated to Congress. See: Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 8.
But Congress is NOT authorized to appropriate funds to teach Chinese prostitutes how to drink alcohol responsibly. That is not listed in the Constitution as an enumerated power of Congress.
Congress is NOT authorized to appropriate funds to provide medical care to old people or poor people. That is not listed in the Constitution as an enumerated power of Congress.
SO! It is the list of Congress’ enumerated powers which is to control and limit its spending.
See, e.g., this paper at the subheading, Article I, §8, clauses 1-16: What it Really Means.
That is how Congress is to control its spending: They may lawfully appropriate funds only on the objects of its enumerated powers.
So, Art. I, Sec. 9, next to last clause, requires Congress to periodically publish the list of what it has appropriated funds for (e.g., such and such amount for salaries of federal judges [authorized by Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 9 and Art. III, Sec. 1]; such and such amount to build ships for the Navy [authorized by Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 13]; and such and such amount to pay the salaries of the people who mint the coins and the guards at the mint (Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 5).
Congress is also required by Art. I, Sec. 9, next to last clause to publish the receipts it took in.
Our Constitution contemplated that the federal government would obtain its revenue [which was to be spent ONLY on the enumerated objects of Congress' powers] in two basic ways: (1) import & export tariffs, excise taxes (e.g., tax on whiskey) and (2) apportioned contributions from the States.
So, if the federal government had a shortfall in its constitutionally authorized expenditures on the enumerated objects, and the revenues from the tariffs and excise taxes, the federal government would make up the shortfall from the States. The amount due from each State would be apportioned based on population [Art. I, Sec. 2, cl. 3]
Congress never had a “budget” until the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. The Progressives wanted to substitute a “budget” for the enumerated powers.
This was the beginning of the wholesale ignoring of Our Constitution.
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