5 years ago

Alabama should pass the Compact for a Balanced Budget to rein in National Debt (Opinion)

Debt Statue of Liberty
(Image above: A visual illustration of America’s debt piled up around the Statue of Liberty. The full visualization can be found here.)

There are few things as outrageous to Americans as taxation without representation; it started a war. But it is a fact that our children and grandchildren will be taxed for most of our current $18.5 trillion national debt. It is also a fact they had no representation when that obligation was imposed on them.

Our descendants should not be stuck with a bill for federal spending that mostly does not benefit them – but that is exactly what Washington is doing.

Soon Congress will be voting to lift the federal debt limit yet again—as it has done dozens of times in the past. The debt limit debate and temporary shutdowns in Washington have always been pure political theater. The overspending continues.

But why should we expect anything else?

Unlike Alabama, which is constitutionally required to balance its budget every year, the federal government can run deficits, print money, and borrow without limit. They promise ever-expanding programs of federal goodies, and borrow on the backs of our children to fund these leviathan programs that are strangling our economic freedom.

But the irresponsible spending cannot go on forever.

Today, our $18.5 trillion national debt exceeds the value of our annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which measures our nation’s annual economic output. The U.S. national debt comparatively is worse than that of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Spain and France. In fact, our debt to GDP ratio is as bad as Greece’s in 2007.

As Greece knows all too well, a nation built on excessive debit is living on borrowed time. At any point, our creditors (China, and the like) could come to their senses and cut us off. We are close to the point of soaring interest rates, massive spending cuts, or tax increases to fund bloated federal programs. It is a grave threat to our national security to put such destructive power in the hands of China, which is the largest foreign holder of our national debt.

That’s why the Alabama Senate just joined Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, and North Dakota in an effort to seize the wheel before Washington drives us over the cliff. On May 28, Republican state senators overwhelmingly passed the Compact for a Balanced Budget, which I sponsored.

The Compact is an agreement among the states to fix the national debt. It advances a powerful balanced budget amendment that would impose three critical reforms.

First, the amendment would limit Washington’s borrowing capacity to a specific amount and otherwise restrict spending to revenue at all times. By freezing the national debt, it would force Congress to live within its means.

Second, the amendment encourages spending reductions before tax increases to close deficits, while still keeping responsible revenue options on the table. It would do so by requiring super-majority approval for new or increased income or sales taxes, while retaining the current simple majority rule for revenue increases that are politically difficult and less harmful to our economy such as eliminating tax loopholes.

Third, the amendment would furnish three “release valves” that would allow emergency borrowing in times of war or national disaster. Congress could pay down the national debt and free up borrowing capacity under the debt limit, or the President could delay less urgent spending when a “red zone” of borrowing capacity is reached (subject to simple majority override by Congress to prevent abuse). If all else failed, Congress could ask a majority of state legislatures to approve an increase in its borrowing capacity. These three release valves would provide Washington with all the flexibility needed to deal with the uncertainties of the real world—but without the absurdity of giving a bankrupt debtor the power to borrow whatever it wishes.

These reforms would force the politicians in Washington to focus on the constitutional priorities of the federal government. Once spending reductions were exhausted, they would encourage long overdue pro-growth tax reforms to close deficits. At long last, the days of kicking the fiscal can to future generations would be over.

By passing the Compact for a Balanced Budget, our State Senate has proudly declared that Alabama will join with its sister states in furnishing the fiscal leadership that Washington lacks.

I urge the State House of Representatives to pass this important legislation and send it to the Governor for his signature.


Senator Gerald Allen represents Tuscaloosa, Pickens, and Lamar Counties in the Alabama State Senate. He is chairman of the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee.

9 hours ago

Alabama Power sends hundreds of linemen, support personnel to assist after Tropical Storm Isaias hammered East Coast

Tropical Storm Isaias hit the eastern coast of the United States hard this week, leaving millions of Americans without power while producing high winds, heavy rain and tornadoes.

In the wake of the storm’s wrath, Alabama Power Company on Wednesday morning sent 133 lineworkers and 94 support personnel to New Jersey to assist utility FirstEnergy in its storm response.

A release from the company outlined that Alabama Power upon arrival will support FirstEnergy subsidiary Jersey Central Power and Light, which serves 1.1 million customers in the central and northern parts of the Garden State.

In addition to directly supporting FirstEnergy, Alabama Power advised that it released more than 325 contract lineworkers to assist in storm restoration at various other utilities along the East Coast.

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“Our crews are prepped and ready to offer assistance in the restoration efforts following Tropical Storm Isaias,” stated Kristie Barton, Alabama Power Company’s power delivery services general manager.

“As soon as it is safe to do so, which includes observing all of our COVID-19 safe practices protocol, we’ll be working to restore power as quickly as possible,” she continued.

The company’s help was reportedly coordinated through the mutual assistance program of the Southeastern Electric Exchange, a trade association comprised of several member utilities.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

Ivey named to leadership of National Governors Association

The National Governors Association (NGA) on Wednesday announced its new executive committee for 2020-2021, with Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) becoming chair of the association that represents the 55 leaders of all American states and territories.

Members of the executive committee were elected during the NGA summer meeting, which was held in a virtual format this year.

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) was one of the governors elected to the nine-member executive committee.

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“I’m honored to have been elected to serve on the [NGA] Executive Committee for 2020-21,” Ivey said in a Wednesday tweet. “I look forward to working with my fellow governors to develop initiatives & policies to support our country now & in the future.”

The NGA recently highlighted Alabama’s workforce development efforts under the Ivey administration as a model for other states to emulate.

Ivey assumed the governor’s office on April 10, 2017. In November 2018, she was elected to her first full term as Alabama’s chief executive. That term will expire in January 2023. Ivey could seek reelection in 2022.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

Mo Brooks: Democrats are banking on creating more moochers in 2020

The latest stimulus bill in Congress is tied up for many reasons, but a major sticking point appears to be the continuation of a $600 a week unemployment booster on top of what states already pay in benefits.

With the current impasse, there is currently no bonus to be given to those who are unemployed.

This is creating a battle between those who want to keep the bonus payment going for the foreseeable future and those who believe that the high payment is keeping people from vigorously re-entering the job market.

The stalemate in Washington, D.C. will eventually break. Some form of sweetener will be included, and the battle for stimulus will move on to the next bill.

U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) views this battle as part of the larger ideological battle in the United States.

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Brooks appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Wednesday and referred to the Democratic Party as “the moocher party.” He said he believes this disconnect all started in the 1960s when Democrats embraced the idea of the “Great Society.”

Brooks opined, “Democrats have discovered that’s a huge voting block that they get in elections, so one way to win an election is to turn more independent, self-reliant voters into moochers.”

The congressman from Huntsville believes this is nothing new and noted how political it all is.

“Democrats perceive that that’s going to help them tremendously in the 2020 elections just a few months from now,” he advised.

My takeaway:

Brooks, of course, is right.

The argument from the media and their Democrats is always going to be some version of: “We want to give you [this] and they don’t because they want you to die.”

Free healthcare, free childcare, free college education, and it never stops.

Stopping any of this is the equivalent of kicking a baby in the face and taking its food.

Democrats have bought into this idea for years, and in the time of rampant unemployment and a pandemic, they will kick their grievance politics into full gear to gain new power.

The House, Senate and presidency are at risk this year. Republicans can give in and extend the $600 unemployment benefit (they will), and Democrats will just move to the next free item.

In 2020, this strategy might work.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

13 hours ago

Dollar General opens 450,000 square foot distribution center in Montgomery

Budget shopping chain Dollar General on Wednesday announced the opening of its large, new cold storage distribution center in Montgomery.

The 450,000 square foot facility is the product of a $26 million investment for the company and will support around 65 new jobs in the River Region.

The Montgomery facility is cold storage, meaning it is designed to store goods that must be kept chilled like milk and deli products.

“Welcome to Montgomery Dollar General, thank you for investing in our state and in our people,” said Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday during a digital event celebrating the facility being opened.

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“We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous support from both state and local officials who helped make this project happen,” remarked Rod West, Dollar General’s vice president of perishables growth and development.

The low-cost retailer opened its first store in Alabama in 1965 and now has around 800 retail locations in the Yellowhammer State.

“Dollar General is a trusted company with a long history in Alabama,” said Elton Dean, Montgomery County Commission chairman, in a statement on Monday.

“The River Region has a lot to offer, and we are thrilled that this esteemed organization, that does business across the country, recognizes that,” Dean added.

Dollar General also has a traditional distribution center in Bessemer and claims to employ approximately 8,100 Alabamians in total.

Montgomery’s new distribution center is located on Mobile Highway, around 15 minutes southwest of downtown.

“We welcome Dollar General and look forward to years of partnership and progress to come,” commented Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed on Wednesday,

The company says it will support around 1,500 stores in surrounding areas and help spur the “DG Fresh” initiative “which is a strategic multi-phased shift to self-distribution of frozen and refrigerated goods such as dairy, deli and frozen products” according to a release.

“We are confident that Dollar General recognized our strong workforce and business-friendly environment when choosing a location for this facility. We are excited to welcome Dollar General and countless companies to come, to grow in Montgomery,” concluded Arthur DuCote, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce chairman.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

13 hours ago

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate

The Alabama Forestry Association (AFA) on Wednesday announced its endorsement of Republican nominee Tommy Tuberville in the Yellowhammer State’s 2020 U.S. Senate race.

Tuberville, after defeating former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in last month’s GOP primary runoff, is set to face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November’s general election. The AFA had endorsed Sessions in the runoff contest.

In a statement, AFA executive vice president Chris Isaacson said, “We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race. He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator.”

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“Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama,” he concluded.

This comes as another major endorsement for Tuberville from the agribusiness community. The Alabama Farmers Federation endorsed the former Auburn University football coach last year and has been credited as being integral along his path to securing the Republican nomination.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association. The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success,” Tuberville stated.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn