A Sad 25th Anniversary –

by Stuart MacPhail April, 2020

On March 18, Ralph Voss, a columnist for the Gasconade County Republican pointed out that March marked the 25th anniversary of the historic vote in the US Senate (HJ Res.1 – March 2, 1995) wherein a proposed constitutional amendment was defeated by a single vote. The proposal had already been approved in the House by a wide margin.

Had that proposal passed, and had it been ratified by ¾ of the states, it would have amended the US Constitution and required the federal government to operate under a balanced budget unless deficit spending was sanctioned by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress.  At the time the national debt was less than $5 trillion.  Today (before figuring in all the spending to combat the health and economic effects of the Coronavirus outbreak) the national debt exceeds $23.5 trillion (USDebtClock.org).  That’s a debt-to-GDP ratio of about 104%.  By way of reference, as of 2018 the debt-to-GDP ratio of Italy was 132%, only slightly better than Greece.

Voss wrote, “While I’m concerned about the virus, I’m even more concerned about our economy. If the damage done by the coming economic crisis is as bad as I’m afraid it might be, more suffering may be caused by economic problems than the health problems brought on by the virus. Only time will tell.

“The virus will undoubtedly bring on a recession. How bad? Who knows? What has me scared is our national debt. When past recessions developed, we had some flexibility. When the last recession started, our national debt was almost $15 trillion dollars less than now. That’s a lot of cabbage.”

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