Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment: Background and Congressional Options [July 8, 2011] [open pdf - 412KB]
From the Summary: "One of the most persistent political issues facing Congress in recent decades is whether to require that the budget of the United States be in balance. Although a balanced federal budget has long been held as a political ideal, the accumulation of large deficits in recent years has heightened concern that some action to require a balance between revenues and expenditures may be necessary. The debate over a balanced budget measure actually consists of several interrelated debates. Most prominently, the arguments of proponents have focused on the economy and the possible harm resulting from consistently large deficits and a growing federal debt. Another issue involves whether such a requirement should be statutory or made part of the Constitution. Some proponents of balanced budgets oppose a constitutional amendment, fearing that it would prove to be too inflexible for dealing with future circumstances. […] Congress ultimately will decide whether consideration should be given to a constitutional requirement for a balanced budget; and if it decides to proceed, it will need to decide whether there should be exceptions to the requirement, or if it should include provisions such as a separate capital budget or a limitation on expenditures or revenues. […] This report provides an overview of the issues and options that have been raised during prior consideration of proposals for a balanced budget constitutional amendment. It will be updated as events warrant."
CRS Report for Congress, R41907