December 2016 Newsletter

  • Citizens’ Group Seeks to Expand Article V Knowledge
  • US Term Limits Appoints Bob Berry its Colo. State Director
  • Speaker Paul Ryan Announces Support for Term Limits 
  • Conservative Publication Sees the Need for a BBA
  • ‘State Legislators Hold Key’ to Overcoming Debt Addiction
  • US Senators Grassley & Perdue Support a BBA
  • Heritage Sees the Problem… But Not the Solution
  • Natelson Issues New Paper on the Constitution

Citizens’ Group Seeks to Expand Article V Knowledge – 

A group of citizen activists in Colorado has been meeting regularly since January 2013 to promote the use of Article V.  The group, calling itself the First Committee, is patterned after the committees of correspondence which were active during the American Revolution and the early days of the new United States.

Organized with the help of Article V scholar Rob Natelson, the group has sent out speakers to various civic groups around Colorado to educate the public about Article V.  The group meets monthly at Colorado’s Independence Institute, home of the Article V Information Center.

The First Committee is now reaching out to help citizens in other states to organize their own “committee of correspondence” and educate citizens about the important tool provided as an alternative way to amend the US Constitution.

For more information, click HERE to write directly to the First Committee.

Speaker Paul Ryan Announces Support for Term Limits – 

According to The Hill, a week after the recent election US House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he supports Donald Trump’s call for a Congressional Term Limit amendment to the Constitution.  Read The Hill article HERE.

The notion of limiting Congressional terms was one of Trump’s “drain the swamp” themes during his successful campaign for the Presidency.  Surely he welcomed Ryan’s support.  It is not so certain Trump has support of 2/3 of the members of both houses of Congress to formally propose such a Constitutional amendment.  Trump may have to call on state legislatures to act through an Article V convention to bring this campaign wish to fruition (see article above).

On the same topic, right after the election Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced plans for the Texas legislature to adopt a resolution calling for a term limits-focused, state-led Article V convention.  The San Antonio Express-News carried a story about Abbott’s announcement.  Read it HERE.

Conservative Publication Stresses Need for a BBA – 

The November 10 edition of the Conservative Review listed key actions that conservatives in Congress should immediately address.  Among them was taking action to balance the nation’s budget.

As the article noted, “One of the greatest threats to our republic is crushing debt.  It’s time to push a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that limits the size of government and that prohibits Congress and the courts from imposing tax hikes.  A balanced budget amendment would force Congress to take a hard look at entitlement programs that are on a path to insolvency, while also requiring them to honor the promises to people relying on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security today.”

What the story did not acknowledge is that any balanced budget amendment proposed by Congress is likely to be weak and full of loopholes.  The real role of Congress is to acknowledge the many Article V applications for a state-led BBA-focused convention of states, and to quickly honor its duties to call a limited Article V convention as soon as 34 legitimate (same subject) applications have been received.

The story does stress that Congress can begin right away to “stop cutting deals in the name of ‘incrementalism.’  Our squishy leaders will try to lower expectations for the new Congress.  They will blame the Senate’s filibuster as a way to deflect from their own lack of leadership.”  The writer exhorts members to learn from Trump and fight for reductions in spending where appropriate.

Read the Conservative Review article HERE.

 

‘State Legislators Hold the Key’ to Overcoming Debt Addiction – 

On Nov. 12 the Toledo Chronicle (Ohio) published a guest editorial by a man who died in 2015, David Stanley.  Stanley was the founder and chairman of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

Stanley’s piece was entitled “How to restore federal fiscal sanity: The state legislators hold the key”.  As one of his last writings, Stanley noted, “The federal government’s spending and debt are out of control.  We no longer have a debt problem: we have a national debt addiction.”

After pointing out that “National polls consistently show that more than two-thirds of the American people want to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget,” he says, “The U.S. Constitution provides only one way to compel a reluctant Congress to act on a Constitutional Amendment that the people and the State Legislatures want.  That one way is for 34 states to adopt a resolution asking Congress… to call a limited… convention to propose only this one amendment.

Read David Stanley’s opinion piece HERE.

 

US Senators Grassley & Perdue Support a BBA – 

In an opinion piece written jointly bt US Senators Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and David Perdue (Georgia), published in the Dickinson County News (South Dakota), they suggested that “Washington can learn from states’ fiscal management”.

They said, Staying within our financial means is a concept that governments should adopt as stewards of our tax dollars. In many states, like Iowa and Georgia, they already have.  In fact, nearly every state has some sort of balanced budget requirement.” … and In each of the last seven years, the federal government has spent hundreds of billions, even trillions more than it took in.  The national debt has ballooned past $19.6 trillion and we have more than $100 trillion in future unfunded liabilities.  As a result, every American family is responsible for almost $1 million of the debt.  It’s only getting worse: The national debt is projected to rise to nearly $30 trillion over the next decade.”

They concluded by saying, “We must take decisive action to solve the crisis and end the federal government’s spending addiction.  Our economy, our security and our future prosperity depend on it.  That’s why we support adding a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.”

Read their entire piece HERE.

 

Heritage Foundation Sees the Problem… But Not the Solution – 

Lauren Bowman and Romina Boccia recently produced a commentary for The Daily Signal (a Heritage Foundation publication) headlined “What You Need to Know About the National Debt, in 2 Charts”.

The writers correctly noted that the US national debt jumped by $1.4 trillion in one short year.  They reported that “The debt hit a record-breaking high of $19.6 trillion at the close of the federal government’s 2016 fiscal year on Sept. 30.  It had totaled $18.1 trillion at the end of the previous fiscal year.”

They also report that “Growing spending fuels the growth in debt.  The Congressional Budget Office projects that the debt will rise to 86 percent of GDP by 2026, to 106 percent by 2035, and to 141 percent by 2046.  If America continues on this path of unsustainable debt, we likely will face negative consequences such as higher interest costs, slower economic growth, and a greater chance of a fiscal crisis.”

The Bowman-Boccia article is a good one.  Its charts clearly demonstrate the extent of rising US debt.  Read the article and see the charts HERE.

Meanwhile the conservative think tank continues its mistaken belief that Congress will rein itself in.   A 2011 Heritage report (#10-CGL) entitled “Article V: Congress, Conventions, and Constitutional Amendments” by Matthew Spaulding and Trent England still sets that organization’s basic position on the state-led option in Article V.  Read it HERE.

That report concludes its analysis of Article V by saying, “the extensive unknowns and significant risks involved in that uncharted option (the second option in Article V) make congressional proposal of amendments abundantly more prudent and the most viable method to achieve serious constitutional reform.” 

Heritage released an update on its Article V position on Feb. 19, 2016… the organization’s most recent position statement.  That report (Legal Memorandum #174) by John Malcom was entitled “Consideration of a Convention to Propose Amendments Under Article V of the U. S. Constitution”. Read it HERE.

The memorandum gives reasonably equal weight to arguments that “the risks of an Article V convention in the face of legal uncertainty are simply too great”… and “The possibility of an Article V convention of the states has a great deal of appeal to many”.  But even this most recent position by Heritage could hardly be seen as support for use of the most obvious tool the Founders provided for dealing with an out-of-control national government.

The 2016 paper gives a brief summary on four of the current Article V efforts.  The most positive thing this Heritage report says is “Regardless of the particular merits of these proposals and whether these efforts ultimately result in a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution, getting people engaged in a robust discussion of important issues regarding self-governance and the proper role of the federal and state governments in the lives of the American people is a constructive and positive development”.

 

Natelson Issues New Paper – 

Constitutional scholar Rob Natelson is constantly researching Constitutional history and issues… and reducing his findings to writing.  His most recent work deals with the question Did Congress Approve the (1776) Constitution?

His new paper can be read HERE.

The above posting is one of the more than 250 research papers produced by Professor Natelson since 2010 that are now posted on a new Heartland Institute web site: http://robnatelson.com.

Regarded as one of America’s top scholars on Article V, 93 of Natelson’s papers on this new site deal with questions often posed by Article V activists.   The site allows visitors to narrow searches to just Article V topics, but unfortunately there is no search provision within the 93 Article V topics.

 

Who Said It?

“Having hope means that one will not give in to overwhelming anxiety, a defeatist attitude, or depression in the face of difficult challenges or setback.  (Hope is) more than the sunny view that everything will turn out all right; (it is) believing you have the will and the way to accomplish your goals.”

Written by Daniel Goldman in his study of emotional intelligence…
in relation to President Lincoln’s reactions to setbacks in the Civil War…
not long before victory.  Page 631 – Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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