Would a BBA really work? I think it depends. I doubt it would do much to restrain Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. I don’t think the whole Constitution thing means a whole lot to them.
I think Hillary’s different, partly because of Bill. He was the last President to balance a budget, and she would want to match his record, if not exceed it. Right now the Republican frontrunner is Jeb Bush. If a BBA is in place, or imminent, Hillary would embrace it, and promise to implement it. She would point out that the last President to balance the budget was a Democrat, who happens to be her husband. He was followed in office by Jeb’s brother, a Republican, who promptly blew through the trillions in reserve that were bequeathed to him by his predecessor.
So if it’s Clinton v. Bush, advantage Clinton on balancing the budget. At least in historical, Presidential terms. She could use the BBA to beat up Bush about his brother’s record. What’s he going to do, admit the truth, that his brother’s a dope?
We haven’t had a lot of help from Democrats, though that may be about to change in Montana. Once we pass this thing the Democrats will change their tune. They would have no choice. An Article V Amendment is the voice of the people. In embracing it, the Democrats would neutralize one of their weaknesses — the big spender tag. One of the defining issues of 2016 would be how, exactly, we’re going to balance the budget in the timeline set out in the Amendment. Hillary could talk about making the wealthy pay their fair share, and Bush would promise no new taxes. This would have to have a positive effect on confidence in our economic future. Another virtuous circle, as economic confidence grows, the economy grows, making it easier to actually balance the damn thing.
This is all bullshit. I know. Sitting around predicting how something will play out politically eighteen months from now is a fool’s game. But it’s as plausible as any other scenario. And it shouldn’t scare Democrats.
At least the good ones.