Obama: ‘We Don’t Need a Balanced Budget Amendment’

By Fred Lucas | July 18, 2011 | 7:23 AM EDT

President Barack Obama answers questions on the ongoing budget negotiations during a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama says America does not need a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and he once again blamed much of the fiscal problem on Bush-era tax cuts.

“We don’t need a constitutional amendment to do our jobs,” Obama told reporters at his Friday news conference. “The Constitution already tells us to do our jobs -- and to make sure that the government is living within its means and making responsible choices.”

The House will consider a balanced budget amendment next week. It is an idea supported by both conservatives (including Sen. Jim DeMint of S.C.) and liberal Republicans (including Sen Olympia Snowe of Maine). In fact, every Republican in the U.S. Senate now supports a balanced budget amendment as a way of offseting a $2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling.

The public overwhelmingly supports a balanced budget amendment by 72 percent, while just 20 percent oppose it, according to a Fox News poll.

To legally borrow more money, Congress and the president must authorize an increase in the debt ceiling. The national debt is $14.4 trillion. Under the constitutional amendment, a deficit would have to be erased by spending cuts.

“We don’t need a balanced budget amendment,” Obama said on Friday. “We simply need to make these tough choices and be willing to take on our bases. And everybody knows it. I mean, we could have a discussion right here about what the numbers look like, and we know what’s necessary.” Obama and his fellow Democrats insist that a tax hike on the wealthy is necessary.

A reporter at the news conference pointed out that Vice President Joe Biden voted for a balanced budget amendment when he was in the Senate in 1997.

House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday cited comments earlier this year from House Minority White Steny Hoyer, who said, “I happen to be for a balanced budget amendment.” Boehner, in the same news released, also quoted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as saying, “I believe we should have a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.”

Obama blamed the policies former President George W. Bush for the nation’s current fiscal problems – touting his own $787-billion stimulus package at the same time. He asserted that the United States will not find itself in the same position as Greece and other countries that have reached the financial brink.

“Contrary to what some folks say, we’re not Greece, we’re not Portugal,” Obama said. “It turns out that our problem is we cut taxes without paying for them over the last decade; we ended up instituting new programs like a prescription drug program for seniors that was not paid for; we fought two wars, we didn’t pay for them; we had a bad recession that required a Recovery Act and stimulus spending and helping states -- and all that accumulated and there’s interest on top of that.”