The states are powerful enough to stand up to the federal government when it violates citizens’ rights. Learn how we can better leverage the power of states.
Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend in 1798 that one thing missing from the newly minted Constitution was some kind of limit on federal debt:
"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 to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing."
Any effort to call for an amendments convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution must “make the sale” to 34 state legislatures and “close the deal” with 38 states to ratify any amendment. Resolutions to apply for a convention must consider the political appeal of potential suggestions. The National Debt Relief Amendment sets the standard for a highly marketable idea.
America’s national debt is approaching $14 trillion. To pay that off, every man, woman, and child in this country would have to cough up more than $44,000. And with Congress unlikely to stop spending, the debt is likely to more than double by 2020.
This year, I made just one New Year’s Resolution: to press for an Article V Amendments Convention.
Talk of a convention has brewed in political circles for years. But given the massive growth of the federal government in recent years, with spending nearly doubled from $2.1 trillion in 1995 to $4 trillion in 2010, an amendments convention cannot come too soon.
A new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives fulfilled a campaign promise when it voted 245-189 late Wednesday to repeal President Obama’s health care reform law. But Democrats who still control the U.S. Senate have pledged to prevent the repeal from moving any further.
Arizona and five other states are considering use of their power under Article V of the U.S. Constitution to initiate an amendments convention. With the federal debt exceeding $14 trillion, I believe nothing short of state-initiated constitutional reform will stop the impending fiscal train wreck.
The National Debt Relief Amendment would amend the U.S. Constitution to require any increase in the federal debt be approved by a majority of state legislatures. This would bring planning, transparency, and accountability to any more federal borrowing. The amendment would force the federal government to make the case for adding debt early in the budget process to secure approval by 26 states. Congress could never again impose a multi-trillion dollar mortgage on our children with a last-minute scramble to raise the debt limit.
A central feature of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an option for each state to establish a health insurance exchange. In its simplest form, an exchange would be a website on which individuals and business people could shop for health insurance. However, insurance policies offered on the exchange must be heavily regulated by the state to apply federal standards and price controls.
Recently the Goldwater Institute hosted a standing-room only policy forum to discuss the ins and outs of states initiating the Article V process to amend the U.S. Constitution. If you weren’t able to attend the forum, you can watch the video here. During the question and answer session, a handful of questions were raised about the details of the amendments convention “process,” namely who will select the delegates to an amendments convention and what will the rules be once the delegates are there?