January 2016 Newsletter

  • Can Sick Child Inspire Fundamental Change in Washington?
  • Six Natelson A5 Tutorials Posted at Washington Post Site
  • Coburn’s ‘Kill the Cancer’ Speech at ALEC Convention
  • ALEC Task Force Approves Proposed A5 Convention Rules
  • Heartland Institute Podcast/Letter Focus on BBA
  • Congress Plays with BBA Idea – But Nothing Ever Happens
  • Experts Dual Over 10th Amendment Implications on Article V
  • NFIB Continues to Support the BBA-Focused Article V Drive
  • Presidential Candidates Express Support for a BBA

Can a Sick Child Inspire Fundamental Change in Washington?
The following note was sent to friends during mid-December by David Guldenschuh, a Georgia attorney and member of the Board of Policy Advisors of the Heartland Institute.  He has served as a leader in the nationwide Article V movement, and is the proud father of Carmen (see below).

For the past two weeks I have sat at my daughter Carmen’s bedside in the cardiac intensive care unit at UAB Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama, watching as she struggles to take every breath. She is a two-time cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor. A nasty case of pneumonia placed her here and only the miracle technology of a lung bypass machine keeps her alive. She has the heart of a lion, but time and illness have worn down her once strong body to that of a baby lamb. Her courageous will to live and the prayers of thousands of Americans, however, assure me that come the new year, Carmen will walk out of this hospital under her own power.

For two decades I have sat at the bedside of my country watching its once strong economy destroyed by the cancer of a Washington elite burying it under the pneumonia of an $18 trillion debt. With the passage of the latest omnibus spending bill, our national debt is destined to rise to $27 trillion in the next decade. Our once great country is on life support. What miracle bypass machine exists to save us from an otherwise certain demise?

The cure lies in Article V of the Constitution of the United States. You see, Congress will never take the nasty medicine it needs by initiating a constitutional amendment requiring the national government to live under a balanced budget as 49 states are already required to do. Article V of the Constitution, however, has a mechanism whereby the states themselves can bypass Congress and propose a balanced budget amendment. Two thirds or 34 state legislatures can pass a resolution calling for an Article V convention of states to meet for the limited purpose of proposing a balanced budget amendment (BBA). Thirty-eight states would then have to ratify the amendment for it to become law. The great news is that 27 states have already passed such a resolution. If seven more states were to do so at the start of their legislative sessions in 2016, we could be convening a convention in the summer months making ratification of a balanced budget amendment a central issue in the 2016 presidential election.

A bipartisan group of underfunded ragtag Americans known as the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force (BBATF), with the legislative educational efforts of such groups as the Heartland Institute, will be targeting the states of Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming for the seven resolutions needed to call a limited convention for the purpose of enacting a balanced budget amendment.. The votes exist to pass a resolution in these targeted legislative chambers. The  biggest concern is a single legislative leader could block a  vote. Will Sen. Andy Biggs (R) finally allow the Arizona Senate to vote on a BBA resolution?  With polls showing that 80% of the American people support a federal balanced budget amendment, will leadership in the other states exercise the power granted them by the framers of the Constitution to rein in a runaway federal government?

There will be naysayers who will claim such a convention will try to rewrite the Constitution and inflict horrible evils on the country. The ratification requirements our framers inserted into the Constitution, the adoption of faithful delegate laws and model convention rules by the states, along with the modern legal research of constitutional scholar Rob Natelson and numerous other precautions in place have made these claims no more realistic than the cries of Chicken Little in my daughter’s bedtime story book.

This country faces historic challenges at home and abroad. The New Year presents a historic opportunity. If leadership in these targeted states had but one-tenth of the courage my Carmen has already displayed in her short life, then 2016 could present the cure that like my daughter will allow this country to get off of life support and move forward under its own reinvigorated willpower.

To learn more about the miraculous life of Carmen, visit a special Facebook page established by her friends entitled “Pray for Carmen.” To get this country off of life support, visit the BBATF website where you can contact legislative leadership in these targeted states and demand a vote this year on a BBA resolution: www.bba4usa.org.

NOTE:  David Guldenschuh is the author of a policy brief recently issued by the Heartland Institute called: “The Article V Movement: A Comprehensive Assessment to Date and Suggested Approach for State Legislators and Advocacy Groups Moving Forward”.  State legislators who have not read that excellent summary of the status of Article V efforts should do so HERE.  

Six Natelson A5 Tutorials Posted at Washington Post Site –
The December edition of this newsletter reported that a series of Article V tutorials by Rob Natelson was being posted at a Washington Post blog site.  Due to timing of that newsletter, links to only two of those postings were included.

The blog site, the “(Eugene) Volokh Conspiracy”, is reportedly read by people at the highest level of political thought, including certain Supreme Court justices.  Because the six-part series is so well done and so informative, links to the entire series are listed below.

As state legislators are about the tackle 2016 legislative sessions across the country, special attention is being drawn to the final post: “How the procedures for a modern amendments convention may unfold”.

Read the series by clicking on the following links.
1 – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/12/07/how-past-american-conventions-inspired-the-constitutions-convention-for-proposing-amendments/
2 – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/12/08/how-the-founders-inserted-the-amendments-convention-into-the-constitution/
3 – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/12/09/how-the-states-have-used-conventions-and-the-amendment-process-to-promote-reform/
4 – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/12/10/how-the-judiciarys-decisions-shed-light-on-the-federal-amendments-convention/
5 – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/12/11/how-the-convention-for-proposing-amendments-became-the-subject-of-popular-mythology/
6 – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/12/11/how-the-procedures-for-a-modern-amendments-convention-may-unfold/

Coburn ‘Kill the Cancer’ Speech at ALEC Convention –
During the early December ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) convention in Scottsdale, AZ, former U.S. Senator Dr. Tom Coburn (OK) urged hundreds of state legislators to confront the cancerous centralized government by calling an Article V convention of states.  Coburn, himself a survivor of stage four prostate cancer, used his own experience to implore state lawmakers to “Kill the Cancer” impacting the U.S. federal government.

In his speech, sponsored by the Convention of States (CoS) Project, Coburn said: “We are now at the point where we have $143 trillion of bills coming due (unfunded liabilities) that we have no idea how we are going to pay for it.” He stressed, “Washington is never going to fix itself.” 

Dr. Coburn noted that “history says all republics die” and that John Adams even said “they murder themselves”.  Colburn suggested that the United States is currently “in the midst of murdering ourselves”, but that state legislators can use Article V to stop that process… that our republic need not die.

Hear Coburn’s moving speech (13 minutes, followed by questions and answers) by clicking HERE.  Learn more about CoS HERE.

In addition to the Coburn speech, the Convention of States Project has posted a new series of YouTube videos to educate legislators and citizens about its three-pronged Article V proposal.  Those videos start HERE.

ALEC Task Force Approves Proposed A5 Convention Rules –
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Federalism Task Force Director Carla Jones reports that during December the Task Force “by an overwhelming majority” approved a set of model rules to be used by an Article V convention of states.

The six “model” rules are considered as basic building blocks for rules a convention would adopt once an Article V convention convenes.  Reportedly, the ALEC Board of Directors will consider the Task Force’s recommendations during January, with a decision before the end of the month.

If the ALEC Board approves the Task Force’s proposal, the model resolution will be sent to state legislators throughout the nation with the recommendations that it be adopted by states that have already adopted (or are considering adoption of) applications for an Article V convention.

The belief is that formal adoption of these basic rules will spur a higher comfort level with legislators who have hesitated to support state resolutions due to uncertainty about how such a convention will operate.

Heartland Institute Podcast & Letter Focus on BBA –
On December 18 the Heartland Institute’s Daily Podcast included an interview with Kyle Maichle, project manager for Heartland’s Constitutional Reform effort, about the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force.  Hear it HERE.

Mr. Maichle also wrote a letter that was carried in the December 23 Beloit (WI) Daily News challenging what he called “misinformation” earlier carried in that newspaper about a proposed BBA-focused Article V application that will be considered during 2016 by the Wisconsin legislature.  His letter can be read HERE.

Congress Plays with BBA Idea, But Nothing Ever Happens –
On December 16 Congressman Cresent Hardy (NV) introduced Congressional Resolution H.R. 79, proposing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  It was introduced without co-sponsors and referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

This is at least the fifth such BBA-related House Resolution during 2015.  Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA) introduced two versions (H.J. Res 1 and 2) in January.  The same day Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ) introduced his version (H.J. 7).  Also on that same day Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL) introduced his version (H.J. Res.12).  All four proposals have been languishing in the House Judiciary Committee since January.

On the Senate side similar go-nowhere proposals have been filed.  In February Senator Orrin Hatch (UT) introduced S.J. Res 6, his seventh effort at getting Congress to propose a BBA (he has also co-sponsored 20 other BBA proposals during his tenure in Congress).  This proposal reportedly had 54 co-sponsors, but it has never gotten out of the Senate Judiciary committee.

All this Congressional inactivity underscores why state legislators must use Article V if Congress is ever to be restrained by a balanced budget Constitutional provision.

Experts Dual Over 10th Amendment Implications on Article V –
The December 18 edition of the American Thinker blog included an important article written by Professor Rob Natelson entitled: “The Constitution’s Article V, Not the 10th Amendment, Gives State Legislatures Their Power in the Amendment Process”.

Natelson offers his analysis on why he believes that the Constitution’s 10th Amendment in no way controls the Article V convention process.  Professor Natelson is the Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Independence Institute and at the Montana Policy Institute.  His article can be read HERE.

Then on December 26 the same blog carried a rebuttal by Nick Dranias entitled: “Article V Conventions and the Tenth Amendment Go Hand-in-Hand”.  Dranias leads the Compact for America (CfA) effort and formerly served as Constitutional Policy Director for the Goldwater Institute.

Both Natelson and Dranias are Policy Advisors for the Heartland Institute. The Dranias rebuttal can be read HERE.

NFIB Continues to Support the BBA-Focused Article V Drive –
The December 22 edition of GreenvilleOnLine (SC) carried a letter to the editor from Ben Homeyer, South Carolina State Director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)… advocating that South Carolina legislators adopt a resolution calling for a BBA-focused Article V convention.

He pointed out that neighboring states North Carolina and Georgia have already adopted such resolutions.  Only seven more states need to adopt the BBA Task Force resolution before an Article V convention is triggered.

As a representative of small businesses, the NFIB rep said, “Of course, a balanced budget amendment means Congress would have to make some tough, and politically unpopular, decisions.  If lawmakers want to fund a new program or expand an existing one, they would have to find the money in some other part of the budget, but that’s something small business owners do every day.  We make tradeoffs.  If we need this, we don’t buy that.”

Homeyer’s letter can be seen HERE.

Homeyer wrote a second letter, carried in another SC outlet, directed to small business owners.  He said, “If you own a small business, chances are good you’ve had to learn to live within your means. You stick to a budget.  You don’t spend money you don’t have.”

He pointed out that “Congress, however, seems not to have learned this lesson.  For many in Washington, the accepted perspective seems to be that, if you want to spend more, you can either just raise taxes or go deeper and deeper into debt.  Then, just let our kids and grandkids sort out the mess later.  It has to stop.”  This letter can be read HERE.

The December 12 edition of GreenvilleOnLine also carried an opinion piece by local school board member Alex Saitta, stressing the need for a federal BBA.  His piece, entitled “US needs more checks on federal power” can be read HERE.

Presidential Candidates Express Support for a BBA/Term Limits –
In a December 22 posting on the Blaze, under the headline “Washington Will Spend Us Into Oblivion. It’s Time for a Balanced Budget”, presidential hopeful Rand Paul said, “Congress will never balance the budget unless we force them to do so.  That’s why I have advocated for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution for years.”  Rand’s full statement can be read HERE.

In a Dec. 29 speech in Waterloo, Iowa, presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio was reported by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier as saying he’d “call for a constitutional convention of the states on his first day in office to try to add constitutional amendments that call for term limits for both the legislative and judiciary branches and a balanced-budget amendment.”  Read that report HERE.

Over past months these other presidential candidates have also expressed their support for a BBA:  Governor John Kasich, Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Ted Cruz, former Governor Jeb Bush, and former Governor Mike Huckabee.

Who Said This?

“I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem.
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s
debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.
It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills.
It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing
financial assistance from foreign countries
to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.”
Remarks before the U.S. Senate on March 16, 2006 by then Senator Barack Obama
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