The Balanced Budget Amendment: Not Ready for Prime Time

3 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2011

Date Written: July 11, 2011


The proposed balanced budget amendment is actually a spending limitation amendment. It would limit federal spending to 18 percent of GDP. This article argues that using GDP to calculate the maximum amount of spending is grossly inappropriate, especially for a constitutional amendment, because the term is nowhere defined in law, nor could it be because it is constantly being revised for both technical and conceptual reasons. Furthermore, there is no practical way of enforcing a balanced budget amendment.

Keywords: balanced budget amendment, gross domestic product

JEL Classification: H10, H50, H60

Suggested Citation

Bartlett, Bruce, The Balanced Budget Amendment: Not Ready for Prime Time (July 11, 2011). Tax Notes, Vol. 132, No. 2, 2011, Available at SSRN: or

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