Why does Kurtz Have a Job?

Here’s Kurtz on Gephardt’s criticism of Dean’s willingness as governor to cut spending, including spending on social services, to balance Vermont’s budget:

Does Gephardt really want to argue that balancing the budget (which states, by the way, are constitutionally required to do) is bad?

In case it’s unclear, the parenthetic is Kurtz speaking. However, the parenthetic is false.(*) Many, in fact the majority of, state constitutions prohibit deficit spending (even those states use tricks to circumvent their constitution), but there is no constitutional requirement that all states balance their budgets. Admittedly, Kurtz claims to be a media critic, but when he wanders into politics, which is most of the time, he should make a small effort to know what he’s talking about. On the other hand, his job security appears to be unrelated to the quality of his work, so why bother?


(*) The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 10 says

No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

The prohibition on “bills of credit” may make it appear that Kurtz is right (notwithstanding the factual counter-evidence: States do run deficits), but this is really a prohibition on states issuing currency. Tom DeLay helpfully defines the term for us: “bills of credit: A paper medium of exchange, intended to circulate between individuals and between government and individuals, whether or not the quality of legal tender is imparted to such paper.”