The Administration strongly opposes a constitutional amendment requiring a
two-thirds super-majority vote to raise revenues.
The Nation's 200 year-old constitutional system, with its strong emphasis
on majority rule, should not be altered or amended for symbolic or
political purposes. James Madison, in The Federalist Papers (No.
58), argued against requiring super-majorities for routine legislative
business, stating "the fundamental principle of free government would be
reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power
would be transferred to the minority."
In practice, H.J.Res. 37 would have the absurd result that special interest
tax loopholes could be enacted by a simple majority, but a two-thirds
super-majority would be required to close such loopholes.
Another harmful effect of H.J.Res. 37 would be permitting a minority of
legislators in either House to block revenue-raising measures needed to
prepare for potential military conflicts or to respond to other national
emergencies or unforeseen problems. The current language of the resolution
permits a waiver only if the United States has declared war or is "engaged
in" a military conflict, and makes no provision whatsoever for natural
disasters or other emergencies.
Enforcement of the proposed amendment would also raise serious concerns.
If the proposed amendment is read to authorize judicial enforcement, courts
could be drawn into fundamental policy and political disputes better
resolved by the elected branches of government (e.g., determining whether a
tax increase is "de minimis," or distinguishing between a "fee" and a
"tax"). Alternatively, if judicial enforcement is unavailable, those who
would seek to enforce the amendment would be left without a remedy, and the
public's confidence in the Constitution would be diminished.