Marginal notes on the Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment
For 30 years bourgeois politicians of both parties have been extolling the virtues of balancing the federal budget. Today the mandate for a constitutional amendment to balance the budget is part of Rep. Boehner's debt ceiling bill.
"Balancing the budget" is another Wall Street euphemism for gutting the social wage. The social wage [Medicare, Social Security, et cetera] is that part of the value workers produce on the job which doesn't end up in our paychecks or in the pocket of our particular employer. Workers do not decide how our money is spent because we do not have our own government. Elected representatives pre-screened and pre-selected by the boss class take a lion's share of the money as payments on debt, moving it straight into their massive complex of financial institutions. There it becomes private wealth, just like the value our particular boss got from the work we did for him in the first place.
Only a small portion of the federal budget has been won away from ruling class prerogatives. As the push for austerity cuts increases and Democrats and Republicans feel they can act more boldly, our portion will be pushed back even further. Electing and re-electing Democrats will not change this; it will only encourage our class enemies to further inroads, as the election of Barack Obama demonstrated.
The Constitutional Amendment to balance the budget will be one more point of push-back against us. It will be one more rationale to cut Medicare or increase the Social Security retirement age. [And parenthetically, it will also be an efficient way to scuttle unproductive humanitarian military adventures.]
The utility of any constitutional amendment, enacted or not, is a political and not a legal question. When an independent working class political movement and party is mobilized and campaigning for public works, one of its demands may be for a full employment constitutional amendment. Whether such amendments are acted upon is a question of the relationship of class forces at a given moment in time. Fundamentally, workers and oppressed peoples will only resolve these issues in their favor when they are organized enough, independent enough, and self-confident enough as a class to impose collectively their own conscious solution while on the road to their own government.