Bob Schieffer Asks Senators: Why Are You Wasting Time Debating Balanced Budget Amendment?

July 17th, 2011 10:58 PM

With trillion dollar budget deficits as far as the eye can see, a balanced budget amendment is sounding pretty good to an overwhelming majority of Americans.

Apparently CBS's Bob Schieffer isn't amongst them, as he actually asked Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Sunday's "Face the Nation," "Why are you wasting time debating that?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

SENATOR DICK DURBIN (D-ILLINOIS): The good news is that Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Mitch McConnell are sitting down and working out an approach that we are going to try to tackle this week in the United States Senate. There’ll be a debate on the balanced budget amendment, but no one believes there sixty-seven votes for any version of that. And secondly, we’re going to be working toward a way to escape the crisis that would come, if we default on America’s national debt. These are all good things, but they don’t get the big job done. The President said he’s committed to a big deal, four trillion over ten years. I am committed to it. Harry Reid is committed to it. We need some bipartisan buy in here and I think we can do it.

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST: Well, let me just ask you, Senator Durbin. That begs the question. You said you’re going to spend this week debating a balanced budget amendment that everybody knows has no chance of passing. So why are you wasting time debating that?

Well, maybe because a Sachs/Mason-Dixon poll in May found 65 percent of respondents in favor of such an amendment.

I guess Schieffer is part of the 27 percent opposed, for moments later, when Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) tried to explain why it was a worthwhile issue to be talking about right now, Schieffer pushed back:

SENATOR TOM COBURN (R-OKLAHOMA) Why in the world isn’t there the votes for a balanced budget amendment in the U.S. Senate. That’s the question Americans ought to be asking, sixty-seven votes to say we ought to live within our means when we are borrowing forty-three cents out of every dollar that we are spending today? I think the American people are-- would like to see us do that. That didn’t mean we have to make those decisions. Dick Durbin has worked real hard to try to build a consensus around four-- around four trillion dollars and we have to have something at least at four or four and a half trillion dollars if, in fact, we’re going to send a signal that we understand our problems and that we are going to continue to-- to-- to reward those who invest in us by paying the bills. But we has to--have to do it in a way that will allow us to continue to borrow the money until we get out of thisproblem.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well-- well, Senator Coburn, whether or not we ought to have the votes in the-- in the Senate for a balanced budget amendment when you talk about a constitutional amendment, you’re talking about something that could take years to get passed, because it also has to be ratified by the states and all of that.


BOB SCHIEFFER: The problem that we have now is right now, the government is on the verge of running out of money here, and-- and being unable to pay its bills. So why, why shouldn’t that part of it be put aside for a while and concentrate on-- on-- on doing something to get this debt ceiling either raised and the-- and the deficit down now?

Got that? Why should Congress waste time talking about legislation to require a balanced budget when we're in the midst of a budget crisis?

Let's just raise the debt ceiling and kick that can down the road - again!

Sadly, one quite imagines the vast percentage of America's media agreeing with Schieffer about a balanced budget amendment debate being a waste of time.

It sure is a good thing folks like him have television programs to so poorly inform the public.