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Rep Bradley Byrne: The push for a balanced budget

When the 115th Congress kicked off last January, I immediately introduced a bill that I believe is fundamental to the future of our country: a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The premise of a Balanced Budget Amendment is pretty straightforward. The federal government should not be allowed to spend more than we take in, except in extraordinary circumstances like a time of war.

This isn’t some sort of far flung idea. When I served in the Alabama State Legislature, we were required to pass a balanced budget each year. It was not always easy, but it was the law. The vast majority of states have the same requirement.

Balancing a budget is also a common occurrence for families in Alabama and across the United States. Every month, people sit around their kitchen table to figure out how to make ends meet and live within their means. Small businesses must do the same.

The federal government should have to play by the same rules.

To truly enact a Balanced Budget Amendment, we would need to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a reminder, in order to amend the Constitution, the Balanced Budget Amendment must pass both the House and the Senate by a two-thirds majority and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states, which is 38 out of the 50 states. The only other way to amend the Constitution would be through a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the states.

Recently, the House voted on House Joint Resolution 2, proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Despite receiving the support of a majority of us in the House, the bill did not receive the two-thirds majority necessary under the Constitution.

I was deeply disappointed that most Democrats in the House opposed the Balanced Budget Amendment. Despite talking a lot about our debt, they rejected one of the best opportunities to actually restore fiscal sanity in Washington.

Throughout the course of the debate, two important topics were raised, and I wanted to briefly address each of them.

First, despite what my colleagues on the other side of the aisle believe, the answer to our debt issues is not to tax the American people more. We do not have a tax problem; we have a spending problem.

To be clear, the recently passed tax cuts are not to blame for our nation’s debt issues. As the Heritage Foundation recently pointed out, “tax revenue is expected to fall by only 0.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year and spending is expected to climb by 3 percent of GDP.” Again, we have a spending problem, not a taxing problem.

Second, the most serious drivers of the national debt are on autopilot. For example, if you eliminated every penny Congress appropriated for defense spending next year, the federal government would still be projected to operate in a deficit.   So-called mandatory spending programs must be reined in, and a balanced budget amendment would finally require Congress to tackle those programs head on.

Now, I know passing a balanced budget would be hard, but I did not run for Congress because I thought the job would be easy. We were elected by our neighbors to make difficult choices and decisions.

So, while our recent effort to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment came up short, I will not let it stop me from continuing to push for a balanced budget that requires the federal government to live within our means, just like the American people.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.
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26 mins ago

Alabamian Davey Allison named to NASCAR Hall of Fame along with Jeff Gordon, Alan Kulwicki, Jack Roush, Roger Penske

On Wednesday, NASCAR announced the five inductees who will make up its 2019 Hall of Fame class. Among those is Hueytown native Davey Allison, the son of Bobby Allison, who is also a NASCAR Hall of Famer.

Allison compiled 19 race wins and 14 pole positions in stock car racing premiere series before his death in a tragic helicopter accident in 1993. He won his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in the 1987 Winston 500. He would win at his home track two more times, in 1989 and 1992. Allison’s biggest win came at the 1992 Daytona 500.

The late Allison is joined by Jeff Gordon, Jack Roush, Roger Penske and the late Alan Kulwicki to complete the 2019 class.

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The induction weekend is set for Jan. 31, 2019 through Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. The ceremony will take place on Feb. 1, 2019.

Watch — Allison wins 1992’s The Winston All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway:

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

1 hour ago

Auburn defeats Ole Miss 9-3 in SEC Tournament

Edouard Julien hit a grand slam Wednesday as No. 7 seed Auburn defeated No. 2 seed Mississippi 9-3 in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Auburn (39-19) remains in the winners’ bracket in the double-elimination portion of the tournament and faces No. 11 seed Texas A&M (38-19) on Thursday. Ole Miss (42-15) meets No. 3 seed Georgia (37-18) in an elimination game Thursday.

Auburn scored nine runs in the final three innings to rally from a 2-0 deficit.

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Julien capped the outburst with his grand slam in the ninth. On Tuesday, he had the game-winning hit in the 11th inning against Kentucky.

Auburn’s Conor Davis and Jay Estes each drove in two runs. Ole Miss’ Jacob Adams scored twice.

Auburn starter Tanner Burns (6-4) allowed three runs — one earned — in seven innings. Ole Miss reliever Greer Holston (2-1) took the loss after allowing one unearned run without retiring a batter.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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14 hours ago

20 percent of Americans have known someone suffering from opioid addiction

A federal survey reveals roughly 20 percent of Americans know or have known someone struggling with addiction to opioid painkillers.

The annual report on the economic well being of U.S. households by the Federal Reserve System included questions regarding exposure to opioids, a first in the history of the survey. It found at least one in five Americans personally know someone suffering with an addiction to opioids, reported The Hill.

While the study revealed that white people are roughly twice as likely to be impacted by opioid abuse, the results also showed opioid addiction does not discriminate along socioeconomic lines.

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“Adults who have been personally exposed to the opioid epidemic have somewhat less favorable assessments of economic conditions than those who have not been exposed,” said researchers, according to The Hill. “However, local unemployment rates are similar in the neighborhoods where those exposed to opioids live and where those not exposed live. Altogether, this analysis suggests the need to look beyond economic conditions to understand the roots of the current opioid epidemic.”

The researchers noted that a majority of adults impacted by the opioid epidemic have a positive view of their local economy.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase is driven primarily by opioids, which claimed 42,249 lives in 2016, a 28-percent increase over the roughly 33,000 lives lost to opioids in 2015.

Opioid overdoses made up a staggering 66 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2016, surpassing the annual number of lives lost to breast cancer. Deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, a painkiller about 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, experienced a particularly dramatic increase, more than doubling from 9,580 lives in 2015 to 19,413 lives in 2016.

The epidemic is contributing to declining life expectancy in the U.S., officials said. Life expectancy dropped for the second consecutive year in 2016 for the first time since an outbreak of influenza in 1962 and 1963.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

15 hours ago

Alabama teacher charged with having sex with student

A statement from police says 54-year-old Meta Lovely of Duncanville surrendered Wednesday. She is being held on $30,000 bond on a charge of having sex with a student less than 19 years old.

Lovely worked as a substitute teacher at Bryant High School.

Police say they were told about a possible improper relationship between a school employee and a student on May 2.

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A lawyer representing Lovely, Mary Turner, says her client is innocent and “adamantly” denies the allegations.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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16 hours ago

Less than two weeks to primary – governor’s race

As we get down to the lick log in the 2018 June Primary, there are few if any surprises in any of the major state races. Polling indicates that all of the contests are about where they were three or four months ago when the races began.

There is a tremendous amount of apathy and indifference as we head into the final days. This lack of enthusiasm has also affected fundraising. Most of the high-profile races have not attracted the amount of dollars as in the past.

Kay Ivey is sitting on a sizeable lead in the GOP gubernatorial primary. She took a slight dip in the polls when she ducked out of debates. However, it is not as pronounced as it would have been if she had appeared. Her campaign has been managed brilliantly.

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Coincidentally, at the same time that her staff adroitly kept her out of the debates, her polling picked up that preserving the confederate monuments was an issue with conservative Republican primary voters. Kay’s media folks responded with an ad that could have come out of the George Wallace playbook. They had her telling folks that northern liberals and scalawags were not going to tell us what we are going to do with our monuments. Her resolve made folks wonder if she was actually there when the monuments were erected.

Last week, with only three weeks until the primary, lesbian lawmaker and LGBTQ activist Patricia Todd suggested in social media posts that Kay was gay. Ms. Ivey adamantly denied the tweet. She has adroitly deflected any and all inquiries into her private life.

The bottom line is that polls indicated she had a 30-point lead three months ago, and that lead is about the same now with less than two weeks to go to the Primary. The question is do her challengers push her into a runoff. Speculation is that she could win without a runoff the same way that her mentor, Lurleen Wallace, did in 1966.

The surprise in the GOP race could be Birmingham evangelist, Scott Dawson. He has run a very energetic campaign. Evangelical, rural, Roy Moore voters may be coalescing around the young minister. His strength might be underestimated by polling data.

This white evangelical vote is ironically similar to the African American vote in the state. It is quiet and beats to a different drummer. The message resonates through word-of-mouth between church pews rather than through the media and social media. Although, it eventually gravitates to being somewhat in lock-step with a predictably higher than average turnout.

Most observers expect Huntsville mayor, Tommy Battle, to make a late run at Ivey. He has money in the bank. He will also come out of the vote rich Tennessee Valley with good Friends and Neighbors support. He should get enough votes to run second and force Ivey into a runoff.

However, there will still be a 15-to-20 point spread in favor of Ivey when the votes are counted on June 5. Kay will have to put on her campaign bonnet for another six weeks. She will still not debate.

The Democratic Primary for governor has two thoroughbreds battling it out for the opportunity to face the GOP candidate, probably Ivey. Polling in this race between former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox is inconclusive.

Most of the folks who vote in the Democratic Primary on June 5 will be African American.

Although this vote is not monolithic, the pendulum swings toward one candidate.

The African American leadership in the party is actively supporting Walt Maddox. He has also captured a good number of young white millennials and college students. My guess is that Maddox is the winner in the Democratic Primary.

Troy King will probably lead the balloting in the Attorney General contest. Alice Martin and Steve Marshall are battling for a place in the runoff with King.

Twinkle Cavanaugh is poised to get a good vote in the Lt. Governor’s race. If she has a runoff, it will probably be Will Ainsworth from Sand Mountain, who has had a significant TV buy.

State Senator Gerald Dial has surged in the Agriculture Commissioner race, primarily due to a brilliant and upbeat television ad. It is the best TV spot of the year. He is also benefiting immensely from grassroots support from rural volunteer firefighters throughout the state.

Voter ambivalence favors incumbents and those who have voter name identification. Therefore, my prognostication is that when all of the votes are counted in November, we will have a female Republican Governor, Kay Ivey, and a female Republican Lt. Governor, Twinkle Cavanaugh.

We will see.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in more than 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the legislature. Steve may be reached at this link.