As a "supercommittee" tries to find $1.5 trillion in new deficit cuts this fall, Republicans will be pressing a far more ambitious goal. They want to amend the Constitution to require the government to balance its budget.
The idea is being pushed most forcefully by conservatives eager to shrink government spending but disappointed with the results so far. Republican Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas says a balanced budget amendment is "the only permanent solution to control government spending."
However, some Republicans fear the amendment could trigger higher taxes. They want to require two-thirds of Congress, not just a simple majority, to approve tax increases. Under this summer's debt ceiling-deficit deal, Congress has to vote on the amendment by Christmas. Three-fourths of the state legislatures would then have to ratify it.