Ready for a new U.S. Constitutional Convention?

By Chuck Norris

I don’t have to convince anyone of Washington’s runaway spending. Government 101 shows how skyrocketing national debt, deficits and expenditures have been amassing for decades. Electing differing political majorities has done little to curb the currency chaos from Capitol Hill to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Washington’s out-of-control outlays remind me of the words of President Ronald Reagan, who said, “We could say they spend money like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair to drunken sailors. It would be unfair, because the sailors are spending their own money.”

But alas, there’s finally hope on the horizon to control the federal fiscal insanity by the states’ initiative to force a balanced budget amendment via an Article V constitutional convention.

A constitutional balanced budget amendment, or BBA, is not a new idea, and neither is the states’ push for such legislation. The first BBA was proposed in Congress more than 75 years ago, and the first resolution calling for an Article V convention in state legislatures was proposed more than 50 years ago.

However, what could be new to many Americans is just how close its enactment is to becoming reality. Unknown to many, 25 states have already called for the convention to add the BBA, and only nine more states (34 in total, or two-thirds) are required to force the convention.

True, some states have refrained from joining the national BBA movement. For example, just last week, Montana legislators defeated a resolution by 77-23 that would have made their state the 26th calling for a BBA convention. However, opponents’ rationale is often faulty and fear-based.

Their first objection of a federal BBA is that it would put the U.S. economy in further jeopardy during recessions or years with lower federal revenue by forcing policymakers to cut spending, raise taxes or both; hence, ultimately leading to higher deficits and a weaker economy, or so they say.

However, Barry Poulson, professor of Economics at the University of Colorado, disagrees.

In his Forbes opinion column, Poulson explained that a greater risk to our future economy exists if we sit back and allow the same Washington fiscal insanity to continue. If left to more of the same, our country will reach a point of no return in which nothing will help to avoid economic collapse.

Poulson explains, “The Congressional Budget Office projects that under current law over the next 25 years federal spending will increase to 36 percent of national income. The increased deficits and debt that accompany this spending will result in retardation and stagnation in economic growth that will make it virtually impossible to balance the budget.”

Even the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, confessed in its January 2015 report, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2015-2025”: “Beyond 2017, CBO projects, real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) will grow at a rate that is notably less than the average growth during the 1980s and 1990s. … Beyond [2018], however, the gap between spending and revenues is projected to grow, further increasing federal debt relative to the size of the economy – which is already historically high. …”

We need to take Dr. Poulson’s warning to heart: “If we wait another decade to constrain spending the task of balancing the federal budget becomes insurmountable. By then the economy will be stagnating; and eliminating deficits will require that federal spending be cut in half, something that will never happen.”

Opponents’ second objection of the BBA is that, if the states force a convention, the Constitution could be at risk for alterations besides the balanced-budget amendment, because “anything could happen.”

Dr. Poulson rebuts this objection by explaining that “state legislators are addressing this fear of a ‘runaway convention’ by enacting a companion bill referred to as the ‘delegate limitation act.’ The ‘delegate limitation act’ requires that delegates to the amendment convention consider only the single subject of a balanced budget amendment, and subjects them to recall and penalties if they fail to follow these instructions.”

Moreover, Poulson continues: “Ratification of the balanced budget amendment requires approval by three-fourths of the states, providing another safeguard against a ‘runaway convention.'”

I would further ask: What is more of a risk: a new narrowly restricted convention or an already out-of-control Congress? What’s more of a risk: States aiding an amendment that could help restore economic solvency or leaving Washington to its same political and spending whims?

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789: “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government; I mean an additional article taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.”

Poulson further reflects, “The Founding Fathers anticipated that federal legislators might be unwilling or unable to amend the constitution in the national interest when it conflicted with their self-interest. They incorporated Article V to give state legislators an alternative route for what they referred to as an ‘amendment of errors.’ In taking the initiative to propose an Article V convention to propose a balanced budget amendment state legislators are fulfilling this Jeffersonian vision of the Constitution.”

It’s no surprise that the Tea Party Express has just launched a nationwide appeal for a federal BBA. It’s no surprise that state officials like Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich are even now visiting other states encouraging the passing of a federal BBA. It’s no surprise that a BBA has the backing of some great influential conservative voices, like Luis Marin of IAmAmerican.org. And it’s no surprise that recent polls reveal that 74 percent of Americans are in favor of a BBA to the Constitution. If any politician or issue had that type of majority, it would be considered a landslide.

Dr. Poulson concludes, “A balanced budget amendment would impose the fiscal discipline required to constrain federal spending, but would not require a reduction in federal spending. A balanced budget would only require that spending as a share of national income be gradually reduced to the historic level of revenue as a share of national income, something less than 20 percent. A balanced budget would be accompanied by restoration in economic growth and a sustainable fiscal policy. … Balancing the federal budget is a formidable task, but one that is feasible if we act now.”

The window to stop and correct the economic chaos perpetuated by Washington is narrow and passing. Without intervention, Washington will spiral our economy to its point of no return. All other solutions for economic federal restraint or solvency have proven fruitless, despite the best of intentions of some. The only way to save our posterity from inevitable economic peril is to enact this BBA as soon as possible. There is no reasonable alternative.

If you had the constitutional power to stop Washington from bankrupting America, would you? You do! So, if they aren’t already, please write your state legislators and tell them to jump on board the BBA express.

We are only nine states away from a federal BBA launch and the real road to economic recovery.

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