August 2017 Newsletter

This month…

  • An Update on the Phoenix Convention of States
  • ALEC’s Denver Convention Draws a Large Attendance
  • News Flash: ‘Our Federal Government is Completely Broken’
  • BBA Proponents Testify Before Congressional Committee
  • Idaho Legislator Supports BBA, Will Self-Term Limit
  • CoSP was Active During July
  • More Article V-related News

An Update on the Phoenix Convention of States –
In his recent 38-page paper entitled “Why the Constitution’s ‘Convention for Proposing Amendments’ is a Convention of States”, Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson notes that “the Supreme Court spoke accurately when it classified an amendments convention as ‘a convention of the states’ – a kind of gathering that has been a frequent feature in American history, and whose protocols and composition are thoroughly documented”.

The convention planned for September 12 in Phoenix is NOT an Article V convention, but it IS a convention of states that will plan the rules for an anticipated BBA-focused Article V convention.

The Arizona legislature has formally invited the legislative leaders of all the other states to send delegates to the September conclave.  Several states have already submitted their lists of authorized delegates.  Most states are expected to participate.

A group of Arizona legislators have been appointed to coordinate the September event.  They have already arranged a convention hotel and a new special web site (HERE) to provide all the details.  Actual convention sessions will be held in the AZ Capitol building.

A series of conference calls with state legislators has produced a set of proposed rules for the convention to work from.  A draft of that proposal… which will be introduced as an early resolution at the September 12 convention… will be posted on the above web site in early August.

Filming of a documentary on the need for a balanced budget amendment which will be aired on a national TV network will begin at the Arizona BBA Planning Convention. The film company will shoot footage of the convention and interview delegates on the process of amending the Constitution and the need for a BBA.

Presently titled Balance of Power, the film is being produced because of an absence of awareness and understanding by the general public on the subject of America’s national debt and a bias from major media outlets to portray this topic in polarizing terms.

Two fully equipped film crews will document the proceedings of the Arizona Convention and conduct extensive interviews with many of the delegates.

ALEC’s Denver Convention Draws a Large Attendance –
The 44th Annual Convention of the American Legislative Exchange Council that was held July 19 – 21 in Denver, featured several prominent speakers.  Included were Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Congressman Ken Buck, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former US Senator Jim DeMint and former US Senator Tom Coburn.

The three-day event included a strong emphasis on the need for states to use their Article V powers to restore federalism.  The Convention of States Project presented a panel discussion on their three-part Article V campaign.  Congressman Buck talked about how Article V is the best hope for “Draining the Swamp”.  The BBA Task Force hosted a discussion on why a balanced budget amendment is needed, and a presentation was given on the upcoming BBA Planning Convention in Arizona.  Representatives from US Term Limits and the Compact for America were also present.

The ALEC convention received considerable press coverage, including by the Washington Post, The Nation, International Business Times, and PR Watch, a publication of the left-leaning Center for Media and Democracy.

Just prior to the Denver convention Utah Congressman Rob Bishop announced that ALEC has been appointed to the Advisory Council of the Speaker’s Task Force on Intergovernmental Affairs… which Bishop chairs.

News Flash: ‘Our Federal Government is Completely Broken’ –
On July 20 The American Spectator carried an article by Article V activist and attorney David Guldenschuh proclaiming “The federal government is incapable of fixing itself.  Another mechanism is needed.”

Guldenschuh asserts, “Our federal government is completely broken.”  His brief article goes on to point out, “Uncontrolled Washington spending is driving the federal government off the Thelma-and-Louise cliff.  Our entrenched partisan government no longer cares about or shares the concerns of the voting public.”

He suggests that “We are thus left with the only remedy available under the Constitution: the amendment process. … To propose these amendments, we have no choice except to use the Article V convention of states process, a completely safe mechanism intended by the Founding Fathers to be used in precisely the circumstances we now find ourselves.”

Read his entire article HERE.

BBA Proponents Testify Before Congressional Committee –
During late July, US House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte invited several BBA advocates, including Nick Dranias and his associates at the Compact for America (CfA), to testify at a hearing that was entitled “The Need for a Balanced Budget Amendment”.

Prior to the July 27th hearing Chairman Goodlate issued the following statement: “Every Congress since 2007, I have introduced a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  Our unsustainable federal spending levels are detrimental to our economic stability and jeopardize our nation’s future.

“This week’s hearing will give my colleagues the opportunity to hear from experts about the wide range of problems created by the budget deficit, as well as the need for a Constitutional amendment to hold Congress accountable for a balanced budget each year.”

The hearing was meant to highlight bills that Goodlatte and other members of Congress have filed… bills which call on Congress to propose a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution.

The hearing was particularly important to the CfA effort because their Compact approach to a BBA requires Congressional approval of a related concurrent resolution.  That resolution was filed in the House the day before the hearing by Congressman Luke Messer (IN), Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, as House Concurrent Resolution 73.  Read it HERE.

Earlier this year Congressman Messer sponsored HR 1742, a bill that directs the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to make and transmit to Congress an organized compilation of all applications and rescissions of applications ever made by states under Article V of the Constitution to call a convention for proposing constitutional amendments.

The testimony Mr. Dranias gave to the Judiciary Committee can be read HERE.  Testimony was also given by Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute.  His testimony can be read HERE.  And, particularly compelling testimony was given by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum.  Ironically Holtz-Eakin was seated next to his former Ph.D. professor Alan Blinder who testified against the BBA.  Holtz-Eakin’s testimony can be read HERE.

The entire nearly-3 hour hearing can be viewed HERE.

Idaho Legislator Supports BBA, Will Self-Term Limit –
Idaho State Rep. Eric Redman has announced that he will “term-limit (him)self”.  The north Idaho legislator who is in his second term announced that he will not seek a third term in 2018 expressed support for a “citizen legislature-type program” rather than for long-tenured legislative participation.

During his remaining months in the Idaho legislature Redman plans to continue to push for a convention of states to amend the US Constitution to require a balanced federal budget. “I don’t see our federal government, particular politicians, ever trying to reduce the debt,” he said. “That affects your children as well as my grandchildren.”

Read about Redman’s decision and support for a BBA in The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA) HERE.

On a related front, during July Larry Alton wrote a piece for American Thinker entitled “Term Limits: Good for the People, Good for Politicians”.

Alton gives a brief history of unduly long political terms and concluded, “a lack of term limits is bad for everyone. The system is more easily corrupted, the people lose trust in their government, the government becomes stale, and politicians are mentally and physically affected…”.

He notes that historically 75% of voters have supported limiting congressional terms, but that the national legislators consistently reject the idea.  Read his column HERE.

CoSP was Active During July –
The Convention of States Project recently suffered a setback in North Carolina.  Senate Bill 36 supporting the CoSP proposal passed in the Senate by 29 to 20.  But it lost in the House 53 to 59.  About 6 hours later the House voted 66 to 45 to reconsider the bill, making it eligible for “a do-over vote” during the 2018 NC short session.

That gives CoSP supporters six months to sway the 19 Republicans who opposed the convention call and to reach across the aisle for Democratic support.  The development was covered by The Wilson Times, Wilson, NC.  Read their story HERE.

In addition to his presentations at the ALEC convention during July, CoSP advocate former US Senator Tom Coburn was interviewed about the Article V effort by WorldNetDaily and Breitbart Daily News.

Capitol Research Center (CRC) has also produced an animated video in support of the CoSP effort.  Unfortunately it refers to an Article V convention as a “Constitutional convention”, but the 2 ½ minute video is otherwise very good.  See it HERE.

CRC also produced a full report on the CoSP effort for its supporters.  The report, called “Taking Back America the Constitutional Way”, was prepared by CRC vice president Matthew Vadum.  Read it HERE.

More Article V-related News –

  • IB Times Interviews Congressman Buck

On July 13 the International Business Times carried an interview it conducted with Congressman Ken Buck (CO).  The interview was occasioned by Buck’s new book, Drain the Swamp.

Several times during the interview Buck stressed the importance of using the provisions of Article V to obtain Constitutional amendments requiring a federal balanced budget and Congressional term limits… as the only way to “drain the swamp”.  Read the interview HERE.

  • Natelson Continues to Churn Out Constitutional Research

During July the Heartland Institute published a new Policy Brief written by Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson.  It is simply called “A Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment”.

The 15-page Brief opens with a discussion of the national government’s debt crisis.  Noting “the same dysfunctions that impede Congress from balancing the federal budget also prevent it from proposing a BBA,” Natelson suggests an Article V convention of the states is the most promising vehicle for proposing a BBA.

He points out the many challenges (political, practical, semantic) that contribute to the complexity of crafting a proposed Constitutional amendment which seeks to balance the federal budget and restore fiscal restraint in Washington, DC.  Natelson seeks to restart the process by offering the Policy Brief for discussion.  He says, “This draft balanced budget amendment is designed to renew and improve discussion, not to end it.”

This is a MUST Read document for all BBA advocates.  Read and download the brief HERE.

During July The Hill published another work by Natelson entitled, With due respect to the Supreme Court, some campaign finance laws are unconstitutional and Denver’s Independence Institute posted Part I – Judicial Activism: Here’s a Core Reason for it You’ve Never Heard About.  Click on either title to read it.

  • Economists Poulson & Merrifield Propose Novel Idea

“Can a New Homestead Act Solve the Debt Crisis?” ask Barry Poulson and John Merrifield in a newly released paper.  The two economists have been studying “fiscal rules” used in other countries in an effort to learn what restraints might be placed on the US federal government to restore fiscal balance.

They report, “The debt-to-GDP ratio is now at the highest level in the nation’s history, and it is projected to rise even higher. The federal government faces major headwinds against efforts to reduce and eliminate deficits, including slow economic growth, higher interest rates, and explosive growth in entitlement spending.”

They propose the sale of certain federal assets that are now underutilized. “For instance,” they say, “Congress could pass a new Homestead Act, thereby selling federal land, real estate, and mineral rights. This Homestead Act could improve the nation’s finances in several ways.  The revenue generated from the asset sales could be earmarked for debt reduction.  As assets are transferred into the private sector, profit-maximizing owners and entrepreneurs would bid for the resources, ensuring they will be allocated toward their most productive uses.  The more efficient allocation of these resources would generate higher levels of income and tax revenues.”

Read their proposal HERE.

Poulson and Merrifield also wrote a commentary published in the Investor’s Business Daily on July 11 entitled “9 Years After The Financial Crisis, A Debt Limit Is No Solution To US Debt Problems”.  This piece says “The US now exhibits all the symptoms of debt overhang and faces a major challenge in curing this problem.”

They argue that their “simulation analysis reveals that the U.S. could cure ‘debt overhang’ over the next two decades (if certain fiscal) rules (were) in place.”  Read their column HERE.

  • Volokh Column: ‘The Solution is Right There in Article V’

For those who do not know, the 15-year-old Volokh Conspiracy is a generally libertarian, conservative, centrist blog written mostly by law professors (the rest are non-professor lawyers).  It has been described as “one of the most widely read legal blogs in the United States”.

The July 11 edition of the blog, written by Randy Kozel, as posted in the Washington Post, entitled “The Worst of the Worst Decisions” dealt with the Supreme Court’s “respect for its past decisions”… precedent.

It noted “the Supreme Court’s repeated descriptions of deference to past decisions as important but not absolute.  Sometimes the mistakes of the past need to be corrected.  But there’s also value in allowing the law to remain settled, and in keeping the court’s constitutional decisions from ebbing and flowing with changes in its personnel.”

After discussing some prior Supreme Court decisions that the author believes were based on unfortunate precedents, the piece concluded with the observation: “Just because the Supreme Court won’t correct a mistake doesn’t mean we’re stuck with it. The solution is right there in Article V of the Constitution: the amendment power, which belongs not to the court but to the people and their representatives.”

Read the complete blog HERE.

  • Guldenschuh Issues New Article V Report –

David Guldenschuh, Article V activist and publisher of the periodic “Article V Convention Legislative Progress Report” released his most recent report on August 1.  A copy of the one-page summary report can be seen HERE

  • Coming Events That Are Important to Article V & Federalism

Dates to plan for:
August 6-9
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit – Boston.
Monday, August 78:45 AM Session – “What Would It Take to Balance the Federal  Budget?”  More info HERE.
August 29 – September 1
State Policy Network 25th Anniversary Annual Meeting – San Antonio, Texas.  More info HERE.
September 12-15
National Convention of States to Plan a BBA-focused Article V Convention – Phoenix, Arizona – Hosted by the
Arizona legislature.  More details are at their new web site… HERE.

What Is ‘Federalism’?
Thomas Jefferson explained it best when he said:

“The states are not subordinate to the national government
but rather the two are coordinate departments
of one single and integral whole…
The one is domestic the other the foreign branch
of the same government.”

 

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