Does Congress Need a Budget Amendment?

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WASHINGTON - The fight over a balanced budget hasn't faded in more than 200 years. Attempts for the United States to only spend what it takes in goes back to the Founding Fathers.

"It's taken 200 years since Thomas Jefferson first proposed it to bring it up this time," Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said.

Goodlatte believes the only way to hold Congress accountable for its spending habits is to make the law part of the Constitution.

"We're on the edge of a rocky coast right now. If we don't pull back, we're going to crash and destroy this great country," he said.

The public appears to agree. Every state, except Vermont, has some type of rule requiring a balanced budget.

"The one way we can bind a future Congress, one that's not in power now, is through a constitutional amendment," Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said.

But so far, the measure has never made it past Congress, much less to the states for ratification.

"We don't need a constitutional amendment to do our jobs. The Constitution already tells us to do our jobs," President Obama has said.

The White House obviously doesn't want it and Democrats argue the Republican plan will hurt Medicare and Social Security.

Freshman lawmakers backed by the Tea Party, however, see a balanced budget amendment as a positive sign to voters who gave the GOP new clout in 2010.

"Americans have said very clearly what they want us to do is to rein in spending. Bottom line," Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said. "So we have to start where the American people are."

And they're ready to change the way Washington thinks about votes on Capitol Hill, especially on tough issues like raising the debt ceiling.

"This is not about the next election. That's what frustrates many freshmen. It frustrates the American people," Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., said. "They don't care about the next election; they care about the next generation."

"Can we solve this problem now?" he asked. "We have reached the point that we can solve this problem. It's still within our grasp."

Sen. Mike Lee talked more about the need for a balanced budget amendment and his new book, "The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment Is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government," on "The 700 Club," Thursday.

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