There was lively debate about amending the Constitution to require a balanced budget throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, but the issue seemed to die off in the face of the federal surpluses that marked the end of the Clinton years.
"The reason it fell off the radar screen then is we actually did it," says Robert S. Walker, who served on the House Budget Committee as a Pennsylvania Republican during the Clinton administration. "We simply said, look, if it's not possible to pass the amendment, let's balance the budget."
France has been engaged on numerous military fronts this year as the country's armed forces back up President Nicolas Sarkozy's active foreign policy. The French military's quick success in ousting Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo was lauded, but other interventions — like the one in Libya — drag on, leaving many to wonder if public support and the country's budget will be able to keep pace.
Analysts say the French military is in crisis, strained by restructuring and budget cuts, and tested by three simultaneous conflicts abroad.
Drive through northern Pennsylvania and you'll see barns, cows, silos and drilling rigs perched on big, concrete pads.
Pennsylvania is at the center of a natural gas boom. New technology is pushing gas out of huge shale deposits underground. That's created jobs and wealth, but it may be damaging drinking water. That's because when you "frack," as hydraulic fracturing is called, you pump millions of gallons of fluids underground. That cracks the shale a mile deep and drives natural gas up to the surface — gas that otherwise could never be tapped.
All 17 of George Pelecanos' crime novels have been set in his hometown of Washington, D.C. — but he isn't writing about politicians, lawyers or lobbyists. Instead, Pelecanos' stories look at the city's greasers and drug dealers; its working black families and its ethnic neighborhoods.
The House of Representatives' vote to approve a bill raising the U.S. federal debt ceiling ended weeks of uncertainty and bitter debate. But even as the vote tally came in, the loudest cheers in the chamber were heard when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) made her first appearance on the House floor since she was severely wounded by a gunman in January.