The Post's recent editorial "No Balanced Budget Amendment" {July 11} leaves me astonished. Is The Post really more concerned about how the amendment would "hobble future governments" than about debts encumbering future generations?

As a former governor, I can attest that constitutional balanced budget requirements work. Every state but one has them. And while they may leave state politicians hobbled from time to time, we know that the discipline they impose is correct: no generation deserves the prerogative of enriching itself at the expense of its successors.

The problem is not one of too little "political will," as The Post claims; it is the withering away of the mechanisms in the economy that used to make deficits self-defeating and of political relationships that once permitted party leaders to ensure that Congress gave priority to the general interest.

Today's leaders are no less moral or competent than those who governed America before 1970, when the current deficit trends began. But today's leaders are much more on their own and isolated in the face of pressure from organized special interests.

In free societies, the main purpose of a constitution is to protect the people from the excesses of government. Claims that constitutionally guaranteed freedoms hobble government are an old and tarnished story. The Balanced Budget Amendment would protect our children from the tyranny of public debt.

Nothing would be more morally correct, nor more fundamentally in tune with the purposes and intent of the U.S. Constitution. RICHARD D. LAMM Denver The writer was Democratic governor of Colorado from 1975 to 1987.

The Post's recent editorial "No Balanced Budget Amendment" opposes the amendment because it "substitutes a procedural fix for political will." Yet Congress has tried applying "political will" in the form of budget limiting statutes, and they have not worked. The 1974 Congressional Budget Act, for example, is supposed to limit the expansion of existing federal programs and the creation of new ones. Over the past decade, though, Congress waived the budget act no less than 398 times, as it passed one massive spending bill after another. Gramm-Rudman has been similarly fudged. Shell-game accounting is common, and there is now talk of pushing back, or canceling, the required deficit-reduction targets.

The Post also says that there should be no "particular fiscal policy" in the Constitution. Yet Article I alone is full of specific instructions on how the government must handle matters of "revenue," "taxes," "debt," "appropriations" and "expenditures." In fact, the Balanced Budget Amendment is in harmony with the basic philosophy of the Constitution, because it limits the power of government.

Meanwhile, federal spending just keeps going up. In 1930, federal government spending accounted for 3 percent of GNP -- today, it is more than 22 percent. In the past three decades, the federal budget has been in balance only once, and spending has jumped from $92 billion in 1960 to more than $1.1 trillion today -- a 1,000 percent increase. Last year, $170 billion was spent just to pay interest on the national debt. There are a lot of better ways to use that money, like cutting taxes and leaving it in the pockets of the people who earned it.

The problem is that Congress, like a doting parent, just can't seem to say "no." For every federal dollar spent, some constituent group or special interest gains and demands to have its program preserved -- or expanded.

What is needed is something bigger than Congress. A constitutional amendment that cannot be fudged, waived, ducked, dodged or, best of all, ignored. Congress would have to balance the budget or stand in violation of the Constitution.

The timing of the July 17 vote is interesting. Later this month the government is likely to run out of borrowing authority, and Congress will face the painful exercise of raising the national debt ceiling. Also, the president has indicated that Congress will soon confront another politically unwelcome task by raising taxes. Thus voting "aye" on the Balanced Budget Amendment will be one of the few chances members will have of putting the most expensive credit card in the world -- their electronic voting card -- to a more popular purpose.

Polls consistently show that more than 70 percent of Americans want a Balanced Budget Amendment. Most state constitutions already have such a debt-limiting provision, and more than 30 states have called for one at the federal level. Every American family knows of the need to stay within a budget, and the federal government should be required to do the same.

CHUCK DOUGLAS U.S. Representative (R-N.H.) Washington