December 2017 Newsletter

This month…

  • Wisc. Approves 28th BBA-focused Article V Application
  • Press Coverage of Wisc.’s Action: Wide and Varied
  • BBA Endorsed by California Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Guldenschuh Year-End Report Tracks Article V Progress
  • Article V: ‘Necessary’ to Fix America’s Problems
  • More New Article V-related Papers & Articles of Note
  • NY Rejects Convention to Amend State Constitution
  • Article V Advocate Mark Levin to Host Show on Fox News

Wisconsin Approves 28th BBA-focused Article V Application –
It was four years in the making.  It did not happen easily.  Opponents repeatedly used scare tactics and misinformation.  But on November 7 it didn’t matter.  A majority of Wisconsin Senators had studied Article V and become convinced it was the right tool to use to address pressing national fiscal and federalism issues.

The Wisconsin Assembly had approved two Article V-related resolutions and one related bill earlier in the year.  Anti-Article V factions were bombarding Wisconsin legislators with demonstrations, e-mails and letters, so the Senate postponed acting while they studied the issues in more detail.  Just before the vote Gov. Scott Walker tweeted that he supports the call for a convention.

During the 2½ hour televised November 7 debates on the measures, opponents drew on a litany of orchestrated reasons why an Article V convention was not safe (“it will runaway”, “our Bill of Rights will be destroyed”, “we don’t know what the rules will be”, etc.).  A couple opposing Senators virtually shrieked their venomous uninformed disparagements.

Meanwhile Senators David Craig and Chris Kapenga responded to the outlandish criticisms with moderated voices on behalf of the majority.  They talked about the devastating consequences of continued unsustainable patterns of federal deficit spending and national debt.  Kapenga also referenced the broad public support for a balanced budget amendment. “People understand you can’t run your household at a deficit forever,” he said.  Craig described the debt as the chief threat to national security.

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When the votes were taken, all three measures were approved by a 19 to 14 margin.  Assembly Joint Res 20 expressed support for a set of rules that require delegates to an Article V convention stick to the purpose for which the states called the convention.  Assembly Joint Res 21 is the formal application from Wisconsin for a BBA-focused Article V convention, and Assembly Bill 165 established criteria for appointing delegates to an Article V convention.

With the action in Wisconsin, there are now 28 current live applications (out of the 34 needed) for a BBA-focused Article V convention.

Attorney and recognized authority on the Article V movement, David Guldenschuh, reacted to the passage of AJR 21 by saying, “Today, the Article V Balanced Budget Amendment movement took another major step toward restoring fiscal responsibility in our country and saving the American dream for our grandchildren.”

Tim Dake, of the Wisconsin Grandsons of Liberty, stated, “It is extremely gratifying that our Wisconsin state legislature has recognized the fiscal irresponsibility of the federal government and has done their part to save our nation from imminent economic ruin.  I strongly commend and thank those state legislators who voted in favor of the resolution for their leadership and their fortitude.”

Press Coverage of Wisconsin’s Action was Wide and Varied –
As was expected, Wisconsin publications immediately covered the Article V-related actions of the state’s legislature.  Groups that have organized to oppose Article V and a BBA are well-funded, and they have influenced many writers.  In spite of the influence by those groups, most of the follow-up reports were objective and accurate.

Because Todd Richmond of the Associated Press covered the proceedings, newspapers as far away as Washington, DC, Miami, and San Francisco carried the story.  Happily, Richmond’s reporting was again objective and accurate.  Typical of how these distant newspapers handled the AP report is this US News & World Report.

Even Esquire Magazine (an outrageously inaccurate piece) and the MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show weighed-in on the development in Wisconsin.  While the Maddow report started out with reasonably accurate information, it immediately turned to statements like “most proponents are on the far-right fringe. The religious right movement, in particular, has pushed aggressively for a convention.”  Then it launched into quotes from so-called experts who warned a convention would be “putting the whole Constitution up for grabs.”

BBA Endorsed by California Gov. Jerry Brown –
An article in The Washington Post, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown was quoted as saying “A constitutional convention to propose an amendment to balance the budget is unprecedented, but so is the political paralysis that prevents necessary action.”

In the spirit of candor, readers should be aware that the Post’s report was published on January 9, 1979.  Brown’s full-throated, unqualified endorsement of a state-led Article V convention leading to a federal BBA can be read HERE.  At the time of Brown’s remarks 22 states had adopted resolutions calling for a BBA-focused Article V convention.  Today 28 state legislatures have done so.

While Brown’s BBA endorsement is many years old, Democratic US Senator Joe Manchin (W.Va.) has also spoken out about the need for a federal BBA.  The Martinsburg, WV Journal reports that at an October 27 community town hall Manchin told the audience that, “The country’s biggest threat, is our own profligate spending… soon [to be] measured in ‘trillions’ rather than billions.”

“We are going to add $666 billion more debt this year,” Manchin said. “By 2027, we’re predicting we will be $31 trillion in debt, if we don’t change our ways.”

Manchin reportedly suggested that America needs to enact a constitutional balanced budget Amendment to force the federal government to start balancing its own checkbook.  “No matter what they (the federal government) want to do, at the end of the day we’ve got to make sure they balance the budget at the end of the year,” Manchin said.  Read the Journal report HERE.

Guldenschuh End-of-Year Report Tracks Article V Progress –
Throughout the last couple of years Georgia attorney David Guldenschuh has produced what he calls The Article V Convention Legislative Progress Report.   With 2017 state legislative sessions now concluded, Guldenschuh has produced his preliminary end-of-the-year report.

This year he has tracked a total of about 180 pieces of Article V legislation in 40 states.  His narrative report, available HERE, also offers his personal take on the recent Phoenix BBA Planning Convention.  He also attached the report that he and the other two Georgia delegates to the Phoenix convention submitted to the Georgia legislature.  It can be read HERE.

The chart version of the Guldenschuh report takes several factors into consideration and suggests that the BBA Task Force campaign with 28 state applications is now at 83% of its goal… and the Convention of States Project with its 12 state applications is at 47% of its goal.  The chart, available HERE, also tracks the progress of five other Article V efforts.

Article V: ‘Necessary’ to Fix America’s Problems –
On November 10 Townhall published an excellent column entitled A Convention of the States Is Necessary to Fix America’s Most Difficult Problems.  The author, Chris Talgo of The Heartland Institute, is a former U.S. History teacher.

After ticking off a list of federal problems Talgo says, “Career politicians have turned Washington, DC into a cesspool of corruption and malfeasance.”  He goes on to point out “It is far-fetched to believe at this point Congress would ever propose an amendment to address the nation’s most vexing problems.  Amendments that would require a balanced budget or institute term limits seem unlikely to originate from those who believe they would personally be harmed by such proposals.  Hence, there is a great need for a convention of the states to propose such amendments.”

While most Americans support common-sense solutions such as a balanced budget amendment or term limits, Talgo warns, “[A] convention of the states has become a thorny topic due to a concerted misinformation campaign by those opposed to this process… As momentum toward a convention of the states increases, so does fearmongering against it.”  Read the entire column HERE.

More New Article V-related Papers & Articles of Note –
— On November 6 The Heartland Institute issued a brief paper entitled “State Lawmakers Ready to Follow Up on Amendment Convention Meeting”… a quick overview of the Phoenix BBA Planning Convention by Michael McGrady.  Read it HERE.

— The November 28 edition of Investor’s Business Daily carried a thoughtful commentary by Linsdey Stroud, another Heartland Institute staffer.  “How Millennials Can Help Reduce the Federal Deficit” opens with a 1936 quote by former president Herbert Hoover, “Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.”  Read Ms. Stroud’s article HERE.

— On the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, Karla Jones of The American Legislative Exchange Council published an excellent review of Professor Rob Natelson’s five-part profile of the twelve anonymously-penned op-ed ‘Letters’ author, John Dickinson, one of federalism’s early champions.  Ms. Jones’ review can be read HERE.

The Natelson series, first published by the Washington Post’s blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, can be read HERE.

The Hill.com published a Natelson op-ed entitled “Let’s not waste time reviving the zombie Equal Rights Amendment”… suggesting that those who want to focus on long-forgotten Constitutional amendment proposals could instead “campaign to complete ratification of James Madison’s original first amendment, which Congress proposed in 1789 as part of the Bill of Rights.  Although the requisite number of states have never approved it, unlike the ERA, the original first amendment has no ratification deadline.”  Read his op-ed HERE.

— On November 28 Ballotpedia.com reported that during the Nov. 7 election voters (for the second time in a century) approved all 17 state constitutional amendments proposed to them on various state ballots… clear evidence that voters do not fear constitutional amendments.  Read the report HERE.

— Also on November 28 FreedomWorks issued an “Issue Analysis” on the need for a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution to inject fiscal responsibility at the federal level.  Sarah Anderson, author of the report, stressed that “At the state level, budgets are largely balanced across the board, in traditionally conservative and traditionally liberal states alike.  According to the National Council of State Legislatures, forty-nine of the fifty states have effectively balanced budgets.”

She suggests that “The extent to which these statutory and constitutional provisions truly require that state governments not spend more than they bring in is debated.  Even still, just states’ efforts to do so go far beyond the federal government’s disregard of its problematic patterns of excessive spending.”

Speaking on behalf of FreedomWorks, Ms. Anderson says, “We are supportive of the movement for a budget amendment, an ideal component of the larger fight to hold the federal government to fiscally sound, responsible practices.”  Read her report HERE.

NY Rejects Convention to Amend State Constitution –
On Nov. 7 New York voters strongly rejected a measure which would have scheduled a 2019 convention to consider amendments to the NY state constitution.  The question about holding an amendments convention is automatically put on the NY ballot every 20 years. The last convention was held in 1967.

A few days after the Nov. 7 election Nicole Gelinas of the New York Post wrote that the defeat was due to strong campaigning by government employee unions who were worried that state constitutional changes might imperil their constitutionally-guaranteed pensions.

“But”, she says, “public-sector workers should worry less about words and more about numbers.  Whenever anyone writes that public-sector pensions are unsustainable, New York union leaders have a rejoinder: The constitution guarantees them.”

She pointed out that “An inflexible constitutional provision stands in the way of small changes that could prevent bigger disaster years or decades later.  Government workers may feel more secure after last week’s vote.  But the constitution isn’t made of money.”
Read her piece HERE.

Article V Advocate Mark Levin to Host Show on Fox News –
The Federalist Papers Project has reported that popular radio talk show host Mark Levin will soon be hosting his own TV show on Fox News.  “Life, Liberty & Levin” will begin in February, airing at 10 PM on Sunday nights.

Levin has been closely affiliated with the Convention of States Project (CoSP) since its beginning.  It is believed that CoSP and other Article V efforts will receive more exposure as a result of Levin’s new show.  Read the Federalist story HERE.

CoSP has also released a new 5½ minute video about the proposed Constitutional amendments proposed by that group.  The video features a brief address by former US Senator Jim DeMint and was produced in conjunction with Prager University.  See it HERE.

A Final Point of Interest…

The idea that terms should be limited for members of the US Congress date back to 1777:
“…no person shall be capable of being delegate [member of Congress]
for more than three years, in any term of six years…”
Ironically, these words appear in Article V of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.
Today two groups (US Term Limits and the Convention of States Project) are seeking to use Article V of the 1787 Constitution
to impose Congressional term limits.
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