July 2016 Newsletter

This month…
  • ALEC Holds Article V Event
  • Rules – Rules – Rules
  • A New BBA Legislative Debate Handbook Is Now Available
  • New Natelson Paper Offers Insight on Article V Wording
  • Texas Policy Group Lauds Louisiana for A 5 Application
  • A BBA for Brazil?
  • Article V Supporter Jabs Back at Phyllis Schlafly
  • Doctor Calls for a Federal BBA to Save Health Care
  • Policy Wonk: Illinois Needs Real Balanced Budget Rules
  • Democrat Candidates Announce Support for a Federal BBA
  • NJ Publisher Call for Use of Article V
  • Policy Group Analyzes the Article V Process

ALEC Holds Article V Event –
The Center to Restore the Balance of Government, a service of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), held an Article V Panel Discussion and Reception in Washington DC on June 23rd

Panel presenters included Professor Rob Natelson (Independence Institute Article V Information Center Director), Professor Lawrence Lessig (Harvard Law School), and Congressman Luke Messer (Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee).  The discussion was moderated by Iowa Speaker of the House and Center Chair Linda Upmeyer.

The event marked the release of the newest edition of the ALEC Article V Handbook for State Legislators written by Professor Natelson.  First published in 2011, the Handbook has proven to be an invaluable guide for state lawmakers who recognize that the states have the power and the duty to rein in a federal government that is unable and unwilling to reform itself.

A copy of the Handbook can be downloaded HERE.

Other ALEC News –
–           The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will hold its 43rd Annual Meeting July 27 – 29 in Indianapolis, IN.

–           The ALEC Federalism Task Force has posted a summary of “The ‘One Percent Solution’ to the Debt Crisis” presentation made by Dr. Barry Poulson at a May 6 ALEC event.  Poulson argues that a one-percent reduction in the annual rate of growth in federal spending would be the key to bring spending and revenue into equilibrium in the long term.  To read the summary, click HERE.

–           Supporters of ALEC will want to read The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech, by well-known political columnist Kimberley Strassel.  It is an insightful expose’ that tells the story of the war on ALEC as part of a greater battle against free markets and free speech.  The newly released book is available many places, including HERE.

Rules – Rules – Rules –
The Assembly of State Legislatures (ASL) met during mid-June in its multi-year quest to assemble a set of suggested rules for a future Article V convention of states.  ASL reports that more than 60 state legislators from 30 states attended the gathering at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

ASL is co-chaired by Wisconsin State Sen. Chris Kapenga (R) and Missouri State Sen. Jason Holsman (D), its “Co-Presidents”.

The group, founded in the fall of 2013 has held several meetings in an effort to forge rules for a state-led convention to propose Constitutional amendments.  Reportedly the two-day June meeting culminated “in the historic signing of a resolution in support of the rules package”, but as of July 1 the so-called “rules package” is not available on the ASL web site.

Meanwhile…
Over the past year various Article V campaigns and the Federalism Committee of ALEC have already developed recommended convention rules.  Once an Article V convention is held, its first order of business will be to draw from these recommendations and adopt its own set of convention rules.

It is the opinion of Kyle Maichle, Project Manager of Constitutional Reform for the Heartland Institute, that some states (like Arizona, Wyoming, and Wisconsin) will more likely enact Article V-related legislation next year now that key principles for convention rules have been broadly adopted. Opponents on both the far left and right have one less talking point to use because they cannot go around and say there are no rules.

New BBA Legislative Debate Handbook Is Now Available –
In conjunction with the BBA Task Force and the Heartland Institute, Article V activist David Guldenschch has produced a detailed handbook for state legislators who are considering an application for a BBA-focused Article V convention.

The 23-page guide provides documented answers to the 20 most common “Mistaken Arguments” Article V adversaries typically posit to oppose Article V and a BBA.  Every Article V-supportive state legislator should be armed with this great resource.  It can be downloaded HERE.

New Natelson Paper Offers Insight on Article V Wording –
Professor Rob Natelson has released a new study entitled “What the 1777 Georgia Constitution Tells Us About the Article V Convention Process”.

Relying partly on the work of Constitutional scholar Russell Caplan, Natelson compares Article 63 of the Georgia state constitution, which had been written in 1777, with the wording of Article V that was drafted ten years later.  He points to the similarities in language and differences in wording to demonstrate the Framers’ intent as to how Article V is to work.

The 3-page paper can be read HERE.

Texas Policy Group Lauds Louisiana for A 5 Application –
During June Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Dr. Thomas Lindsay, issued a statement congratulating the Louisiana legislature for its adoption of SCR 52 which jointly calls for Article V conventions of the BBA Task Force proposal and the Convention of States Project proposal.

The statement said, in part, “Fortunately, America’s founders anticipated federal overreach and provided us in Article V of the Constitution the means by which states can restore the individual liberty and economic freedom denied us by the federal government.”

A BBA for Brazil? –
Brazil’s interim president Michel Temer is proposing his version of a BBA for his nation that has traditionally favored a bloated government.  According to the Financial Times, he is proposing a constitutional amendment “to freeze for the foreseeable future public expenses in real terms at 2016 levels.”

The article by Joe Leahy in São Paulo says, “If implemented, the move could help cure one of Brazil’s biggest ills — a spendthrift budget with constitutionally mandated expenditures that have led to constant increases in government spending.”

Read the entire story HERE.

Article V Supporter Jabs Back at Phyllis Schlafly –
On June 17 Rodney Dodsworth, a supporter of the Convention of States Project (CoS), posted a thoughtful retort on the Article V Blog about Phyllis Schlafly (Eagle Forum) and her decades-long battle against the use of Article V.

Dodsworth took issue with a recent Schlafly post on her Eagle Forum website, challenging her facts, philosophy and name-calling in his well-crafted rebuttal.  He concludes by saying, “The doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is indeed absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.  What say you, Mrs. Schlafly?”

His article can be read HERE.

Doctor Calls for a Federal BBA to Save Health Care –
On June 20 Breitbart News carried an article entitled, “A Doctor’s 7 Point Plan for Affordable Health Care in America” by Peter Weiss.

The doctor notes that “The Affordable Healthcare for America Act is projected to cost American taxpayers over $2 trillion by the year 2025, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while 31 million Americans will remain uninsured.  Adding more than $2 trillion to the national debt of the United States is not sustainable over the long term.”

Doctor Weiss says, “We have to come together as a nation to tackle the budget, and introduce a balanced budget amendment to ensure future generations have the same opportunities as those generations which came before them.”  Then he suggests, “One way to reduce federal spending is to re-think and remodel The Affordable Healthcare for America Act, not repeal the law.”

Weiss offers seven specific ways America’s health services can be brought under control.  His entire article can be read HERE.

Policy Wonk: Illinois Needs Real Balanced Budget Rules –
Austin Berg, a writer for the Illinois Policy Institute, recently observed that Illinois lawmakers have failed to pass a single balanced budget since 2001.  He says, “Panic reigns at the Statehouse as the Land of Lincoln drowns in debt, unable to pay its bills. Residents remain overtaxed and underserved.”

The Illinois Constitution directs that the state’s General Assembly’s spending in any fiscal year “shall not exceed the funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.”  Unfortunately that requirement is toothless, letting state legislators ignore it year after year.  This must provide a warning to those future Article V convention delegates who will be drafting a federal BBA.

As the article indicates, “The solution to this problem is simple. Illinois must strengthen its balanced-budget requirement.  A rule that mandates responsible stewardship would go a long way toward putting Illinois on a sane and sustainable path.  The research on this topic is unsurprisingly clear.  States with rigorous balanced budget requirements are more likely to balance their budgets, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.”

Apparently the Illinois Policy Institute has proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit gimmicks that have plagued the state for far too long, but the article concludes that currently their proposal is “as good as dead.”

The writer suggests, “They need handcuffs.”  Read the entire article HERE.

Dem Candidates Announce Support for a Federal BBA –
In New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District where Incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Garrett (R) is considered vulnerable, his Democratic challenger, Josh Gottheimer has announced his support for a balanced-budget amendment that would require the federal government not to outspend its income, according to a news release issued by the Democratic Committee of Bergen County, NJ.

The NJ 5th district race is expected to be one of the most expensive in the country.

Meanwhile, in Missouri both the Republican incumbent (US Senator Roy Blunt) and his principle Democrat challenger Jason Kander have announced that they support a federal balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Kander has said that a balanced budget amendment would “help rein in out-of-control spending and strengthen our economy and security.”

Blunt also has supported and voted for balanced budget amendments legislation multiple times during his years in the US House and Senate.  He is one of more than 50 Senate Republicans currently co-sponsoring a version of a balanced budget amendment.  Like virtually all such Congressional BBA proposals, this measure is pending (going nowhere) in a Senate committee.

Both Blunt and Kander face Primary contests on August 2.  Read an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch about this contest HERE.

NJ Publisher Call for Use of Article V –
Art Hall, publisher of the Cape May County (NJ) Herald used the June 29 edition of his publication to announce his support for using Article V to “fix” Washington DC.

Under the heading “Time for the States to Convene to Fix Washington”, Hall outlined federal legislative abuses before saying: “To respond to the abuses of their day, our ancestors had to go to war.  Today, because of the genius of the Constitution which the drafters crafted, we now have a non-violent mechanism in place to address problems with our central government.  It contains Article V, which gives the states total power over Washington to rectify ills.”

He concludes by saying, “So cheer up.  Our brightest days are ahead of us… If we know who we are and do our part.”  Read his article HERE.

Policy Group Analyzes the Article V Process – 
The R Street Institute, a public policy research organization affiliated with RealClearPolicy and sister site RealClearPolitics has issued a paper entitled “Could an Article V convention fix Congress?

The 3-page document written by Rebecca Coffman outlines several of the misconceptions about the Article V process, and offers good responses to those claims.

The paper concludes by saying: “a convention of state legislatures remains a viable, reasonable solution to the current congressional dysfunction and efforts should be made to advance that cause.”

Read the paper HERE.

Who said it?

This man was charged by contemporaries as favoring long-running national debt.
In reply he denied that government debt was a good thing at all times.  He said:
“particular and temporary circumstances might render that advantageous
at one time, which at another might be hurtful.”
America’s first Secretary of the Treasury,
Alexander Hamilton, September 12, 1792
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