4) I would not argue that Gramm-Rudman-Hollings
(GRH) was particularly successful in that its deficit targets were soon made more lenient and then the process collapsed when it proved impossible to meet the more lenient targets.
Similarly, supporters of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings
deficit reduction plan (GRH) believed the provision for across-the-board spending cuts would force Congress and the President to meet the annual deficit targets by its mere threatening presence.
I am not categorically opposed to quasi-constitutional structural statutes or to Congress' efforts to tie itself to the mast, as it attempted to do in the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings
1) Legislators have made several efforts, such as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings
(GRH) Act of 1986 and the Budget Reconciliation Bill of 1993, to reduce deficits and debt.
One was the case of a Farmers Home Administration supervisor from South Dakota despondent over the prospect of having to foreclose on the property of local farmers; the second involved a former serviceman from New Hampshire depressed over government insensitivity toward Vietnam veterans (he was particularly concerned about the impact that the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings
Deficit Reduction Act would have on benefits); and the third featured an injured and unemployed pipe welder from Connecticut whose disability payments had recently been cut off or reduced.
Segal also noted that the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings
legislative fiasco, which had been touted by Gramm as a way to force members of Congress to cut spending, had, among its many failures, a particularly notable one: A study done over an eighteen-month period by the National Taxpayers Union found that--with only three exceptions--all 535 "members of both houses had sponsored at least one bill to cut spending:" That's right, only three exceptions.
This was the result not only of economic growth, but of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings
budget-control act, which at least slowed the pace of Congress' spending spree, the real cause of the deficit.
As was the case with Gramm-Rudman-Hollings
(which required across-the-board spending cuts if a deficit target was exceeded), significant exemptions are envisioned by most advocates.
Previous efforts to address the nation's growing debt include The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings
Agreement and the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990.
The Act, while not having deficit targets of the sort found in the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings
laws, puts upper limits on discretionary expenditures and constraints on how taxes and mandatory expenditure programmes can be changed.
The new budget procedures make it easier than under the previous Gramm-Rudman-Hollings
procedures for fiscal policy to have a stabilizing effect on the economy.
Schultze, for instance, believes that removing social security from the budget would discourage Congress from using its surpluses to fund other programs, whereas Rudolph Penner argues that including it in the budget rewards Congress for tading off trust fund expenditures against other expenditures in its effort to hit Gramm-Rudman-Hollings