Blue Dog Democrats Endorse Balanced Budget Amendment That Would Double Unemployment, Gut Social Safety Net

Congressional Republicans are still trying to persuade Americans that they are focused on job creation, but each time they propose another piece of legislation, it is exposed as a gimmick that will do little, if anything, to create jobs. Such was the case with their anti-regulatory policies, their attempts to repeal health care reform, and virtually every other policy proposal they have brought forth.

Next up in that line, unfortunately, is a rehashed form of a radical Balanced Budget Amendment, a plan that according to recent analyses would actually cost America 15 million jobs. But thanks to the conservative wing of the Democratic Party, the Republicans won’t be alone in their chase for a radical budget amendment that could help push the country back into the throes of recession.

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Despite the fact that House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said yesterday he would encourage his party to vote against the radical plan, Blue Dog Democrats endorsed the amendment on a press call today, Politico’s Marin Cogan reported on Twitter. ThinkProgress confirmed that endorsement with a spokesperson for Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), the Blue Dog Coalition’s co-chair for communications. According to the Hill, Ross said on the call that Blue Dogs favored such an amendment “before balanced budget amendments were cool”:

We were advancing a balanced budget amendment when balanced budget amendments weren’t cool,” a co-chairman of the coalition, Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), told reporters on a conference call. […]

If any Blue Dog does not vote for it, I’d have to question how much they’re a Blue Dog,” [Blue Dog Rep. Jim] Matheson [D-UT] said.

It’s hard to overestimate the negative effects such an amendment would have on the country’s economy. In addition to destroying millions of jobs, it would force such massive spending cuts that House Republicans’ own budget would be unconstitutional. According to a recent study by Macroeconomic Advisers, enacting a BBA now would double the nation’s unemployment rate and cause the economy to shrink by 17 percent — a far cry from the 2 percent projected growth that would occur with no such amendment.

Unfortunately, according to another analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the consequences get worse. The draconian budget cuts caused by a Balanced Budget Amendment would forice lawmakers to gut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), among other programs, the analysis found:

“The constitutional balanced budget amendment that the House is expected to consider this week could force Congress to cut all programs by an average of 17.3 percent by 2018.

“If revenues are not raised (the House-passed budget resolution assumes no increase above current-policy levels) and all programs are cut by the same percentage, Social Security would be cut $184 billion in 2018 alone and almost $1.2 trillion through 2021; Medicare would be cut $117 billion in 2018 and about $750 billion through 2021; and Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would be cut $80 billion in 2018 and about $500 billion through 2021.”

In order to preserve those programs, Congress would have to cut ridiculously deep into every other program. Yesterday, economists around the country warned Congress that enacting widespread budget cuts and other austerity measures now would have perilous consequences for the American economy, pushing the country to the brink of a second deep recession. Today, unfortunately, Blue Dog Democrats decided not only to ignore those warnings, but to endorse an even bigger, deeper austerity plan.