- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 17, 2011

With the debt-limit deadline only 16 days away, congressional Republicans on Sunday reiterated their support for a balanced-budget amendment as the answer to the nation’s fiscal woes.

“Neither party is going to balance the budget unless there’s some discipline in the system,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

In exchange for a constitutional amendment, Mr. Graham said he would be open to closing tax loopholes or identifying other ways to raise revenues, but only if those revenues go toward debt reduction. He rejected President Obama’s assertion on Friday that lawmakers can balance the budget without such an amendment, as evidenced by the spending binges of recent years.

“There is no plan to achieve [a balanced budget] unless the Constitution is changed,” Mr. Graham said.

But congressional Democrats and administration officials are rejecting the House’s “cut, cap and balance” plan, which likely will come up for a vote this week. The proposal would call for major spending cuts, capping federal spending and the balanced-budget amendment. In exchange for those three things, the debt ceiling would be raised.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, said Republicans simply want to “manipulate the Constitution” and impose their own budget priorities through the amendment process.

“The framers would be turning in their graves … [the cut, cap and balance plan] is not going to become law,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

White House Budget Director Jacob Lew called the proposal “draconian” and said it would necessitate cuts to Social Security and Medicare.