July 2017 Newsletter

  • ALEC Convention to Include Article V Emphasis
  • Phoenix Convention of States Update
  • Former US Senator DeMint Has Joined CoSP as an Advisor
  • New Montana Congressman Gianforte Supports Amend Bills
  • Texas Adopts Delegate Bill, Celebrates Article V Victories
  • Article V Opponents Keep Spreading BS
  • An Update on BBA Efforts in Wisconsin
  • Does America Have Any “Fiscal Space” Left?
  • More Article V-related News

ALEC Convention to Include Article V Emphasis – 

Former U/S Senator Tom Coburn and current Congressman Ken Buck have both released new books on the mess in Washington, DC.  (Smashing the DC Monopoly: Using Article V to Restore Freedom and Stop America’s Runaway Government and Drain the Swamp: How Washington is Worse Than You Think).

During the upcoming ALEC Annual Convention in Denver (July 19 – 21) Coburn will be joined by former US Senator Jim DeMint as keynote speakers for the Thursday, July 20 breakfast meeting, representing the Convention of States Project (CoSP).  Buck, representing the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force will be the key note speaker at the Friday, July 21 breakfast meeting.

Two ALEC Federalism Task Force sessions and the ALEC State Chairs meeting will also review progress on Article V efforts.  For information about the ALEC convention, click HERE.

Phoenix Convention of States Update –
A web site has been opened for the Phoenix Article V Planning Convention to provide state legislators with current information about the historic September 12 event.  The web site can be accessed at: http://bbaplanningconvention.org/ .

This newsletter has continued to refer to this event as the “Arizona Article V Planning Convention”, not knowing for sure where in Arizona the event would be held.  But the formal invitations now indicate that the event will be held at the Arizona State Capitol Building… in Phoenix, the last home for Arizona’s Territorial government, until Arizona became a state in 1912.

Now that the Arizona legislature has wound down most of their activity for the year, the AZ House and Senate have appointed legislators to special interim legislative committees to work out details for America’s first national convention of states since 1861.  Their first meeting was held on Tuesday, June 27.

In compliance with Arizona’s sunshine laws, sessions of the planning groups are expected to be available for viewing live on the legislature’s web site:
(http://azleg.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?publish_id=48)

Meanwhile several states have taken steps to appoint delegates to the September convention.  What will the Phoenix convention look like?  Article V activist and former Alaska State Senator Fritz Pettyjohn paints a good picture HERE.

New Publication Written Specifically for Arizona Delegates –
Professor Rob Natelson has produced a new publication especially for those who will attend the convention of states that will meet in September this year.  It is a compilation of his many Article V research studies and is entitled “The Convention of States in American History”.

In the opening he notes, “When delegations from the states assemble in Phoenix, Arizona later this year, they will be basking in a long and rich American tradition.”  The 6-page dissertation covers everything from the Colonial era conventions through conventions in the 20th century.

The well-documented piece summarizes Natelson’s earlier scholarly works on the history of Article V.  Read it HERE.

Senator DeMint Has Joined CoSP as a Senior Advisor –
During the past month numerous national publications reported on former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint’s move to join the Convention of States Project (CoSP) as a senior advisor.

USA Today reported that DeMint will assist CoSP in its mission to “marshal grassroots support for a state-led movement to amend the US Constitution.”  DeMint is quoted as saying “The Tea Party needs a new mission. … They realize that all the work they did in 2010 has not resulted in all the things they hoped for.  Many of them are turning to Article V.”

“This is a perfect time for us,” DeMint said as he announced his affiliation with CoSP. “People are disgusted with Washington. They are ready to move power back closer to home.”

DeMint went on to say, “I tried to rein in Washington from inside the House and Senate. … But once I realized that Washington will never willingly return decision-making power back to the American people and the states, I began to search for another way to restrain the federal government.”

DeMint joins former US Senator Tom Coburn in a powered-up campaign to take CoSP from their current 12 state resolutions/applications to the needed 34 to make their triple-subject Article V convention happen.

Breitbart News quoted DeMint as saying, “Probably ten years ago, the idea of ‘Constitutional Convention’ was something I thought was a bad idea.  But it became apparent, particularly now, after the wave election in 2016 … no one is even seriously considering balancing the budget, or restricting taxes, although that’s being talked about now. … The American people have lost confidence in their form of government, approval of Congress is about as low as it’s ever been, and state legislatures are actually making progress. … I’ve found that the only way to save the country from bankruptcy is for the states to use what the founders gave them.”

Until recently, DeMint was president of the Heritage Foundation.

New Montana Congressman Gianforte Supports Amend Bills –
On Wednesday, June 21, Greg Gianforte was officially sworn in as Montana’s sole representative in the US House.  His first official act was to sign on as a co-sponsor of the “Balanced Budget Accountability Act” (H.J.Res.2 that was introduced on 1/3/17 by Congressman Bob Goodlatte)… a bill that would require Congress to pass a balanced budget or members won’t receive a paycheck.  Under the bill, Congress would have to balance the budget in 10 years.  That bill now has 31 co-sponsors, but has seen no movement within Congress.

In an interview Gianforte did with Montana Public Radio shortly after being sworn in, he said, “I made a promise to Montana that I’d come back here (Washington, DC) and drain the swamp.  I actually had the chance to vote twice on the floor right after being sworn in.  I came back to my office and …  (co-)signed my first piece of legislation … called the Balanced Budget Accountability Act and it calls for a balanced budget, or no pay for congressional members.
I’ve also signed on to three other related bills that had previously been introduced.  I’ve added my name as a co-sponsor on one proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  Another one that would authorize term limits for both House members and Senators.  And the third one, keeping a commitment made during a campaign, legislation that would ban congressional members and staff from becoming lobbyists when they leave office.”

Reportedly Congressman Gianforte made his first speech to fellow Congressmen, telling them Congressional salaries should be suspended for failing to balance the budget.  No surprise, there were boos and expressions of disapproval from both his Republican and Democrat colleagues.

As Article V activist Fritz Pettyjohn observed, the bills Gianforte expressed support for “were dead when they were introduced.  In this or any Congress, such bills are the stuff of dreamers.  Gianforte is not one of those, and it won’t take him long to understand there is no chance of Congress reforming itself.”

Texas Adopts Delegate Bill, Celebrates Article V Victories –
The Texas legislature adopted SB21 in late May by votes of 113 to 31 in the House and 21 to 10 in the Senate.  The bill establishes selection and instruction provisions for delegates and alternates to a future Article V convention.  Several states have already adopted such bills.

The Texas bill provides that all delegates and alternates shall be drawn exclusively from the state legislature.  It provides an oath, prohibits certain kinds of voting, and establishes an oversight committee.

The Texas legislature had earlier adopted a resolution in support of the CoSP application for an Article V convention.  The Article V emphasis in Texas was one of Texas Governor Abbott’s emergency items for their recent legislative session.  In celebration of success of the Article V bills, in early June Abbott held a reception to thank those who worked to pass them.

“We the people have the power to restore the Constitution to its original intent,” Abbott said.  He went on to say, “We will live up to the aspiration of what Madison, Hamilton, and the whole lot of them knew.  They knew back in the 1700s the federal government they created would come unhinged and would transgress the freedoms that they instilled in the Constitution.”

Article V Opponents Keep Spreading BS –
Some optimistic folks look at barnyard manure and think its presence must indicate a pony is nearby.  Not in this case.  The BS we see being spread around about Article V only means there are raging bulls lurking nearby, ready to destroy.  Be aware!

Typical of the distortions and misinformation being spread these days by Common Cause and its fellow-travelers is a piece by Simon Davis-Cohen at an on-line site called AlterNet.  He says “A billionaire-backed ‘movement’ is dangerously close to” successfully bringing about an Article V convention.  Then he identifies that ‘movement’ ss the one being fostered by the BBA Task Force.  That is the ‘movement’ closest to getting the 34 needed state applications.  The claim that it is “billionaire-backed” has no basis.  No doubt they wished they had big dollar backing.  The AlterNet piece is loaded with many other inaccuracies and misleading innuendos.

During June PR Watch, a publication of the Center for Media and Democracy, also implied that the BBA Task Force is “bankrolled by the Koch brothers and other ultra-conservative billionaires.”  That article also bashed the CoSP effort

A June 14 article by Ana Marie Cox on the MTV News site described that efforts to have an Article V convention as “bubbling up from the depths of the deplore-o-sphere, where all the nation’s worst ideas come from”.  It went on to say “This convention is essentially a push to reconsider the fundamentals of the nation’s founding document.”  The article dredges up the “runaway convention” malarkey and repeats much of the long-disabused shop-worn opposition misinformation opponents have used for years.

As numerous anti-Article V groups currently pour out their various forms of BS, Article V expert Rob Natelson produced an excellent 7-page documentation on the disinformation campaigns that plagued Article V efforts in the 1960s and 1970s.

Natelson’s piece, issued June 11, is called “Fake News: How Two Leading Newspapers Spread the ‘Runaway Convention’ Story in the 1960s & 1970s”.  Slanted news and the distribution of gross misinformation is likely to increase as current Article V campaigns move toward success.  Beware the stink!  Read Natelson’s report HERE.

An Update on BBA Efforts in Wisconsin –
On June 14 the Wisconsin Assembly approved AJR21 by a vote of 53 to 41.  The bill calls for an Article V convention to propose a constitutional amendment on the single subject of a balanced budget.  The action constitutes a first step in the application process.  As of press time the Wisconsin Senate had not addressed the question.

An Associated Press story about the development quoted Assembly Speaker Robin Voss as saying, “Congress has failed to act in any meaningful way to curb our growing debt … It’s up to states like Wisconsin to stand up and do the right thing for our future.”

Not surprisingly, the ACLU of Wisconsin and Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, claim there are a lot of unanswered questions about the Article V process.

Wisconsin State Journal columnist Chris Rickert correctly noted “by opposing the call for convention, good government groups that make a point of defending the Constitution appear to (be) picking and choosing parts of the Constitution worth defending and doubting a system of government that’s served us pretty well.”  Read his coverage HERE.

The Wisconsin development was considered so significant it was even covered in the Miami Herald.  They reported that the Wisconsin Assembly also adopted two related bills.  AB165, a delegate selection and instruction bill, was approved by a vote of 57 to 37.  HJR20, recommending rules and procedures for an Article V convention, was approved by a vote of 60 to 37.

Rep. Chris Taylor, one of the Assemblymen who opposed the Article V actions said, “This should scare you all.”  Rep. Michael Schraa responded that “the country’s founding fathers clearly believed in the convention process since they included it in the Constitution”. Rep. Vos accused Democrats of “fear-mongering”.

A day after the Wisconsin Assembly acted, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel published an editorial opposing any kind of Article V convention, especially one focused on a BBA.  The editorial repeated many of the lines of misinformation espoused by the organized opponents of the effort.  The editorial claimed that advocates for a BBA-focused Article V convention are “playing voters for suckers by telling them a constitutional convention is the answer”.  Read that editorial HERE.

Prior to the Assembly’s action, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced his support for the measure, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.  Walker focused on the high threshold for ratifying amendments — 38 states — in saying holding a convention “makes sense”.

“I don’t think it’s wrong, particularly when you look at things like a balanced budget or even things as simple as term limits for federal office,” Walker said. “Those things aren’t going to happen by virtue of the Congress.  I think it makes sense for the people of this country to say we want to have a say.”  Read about Walker’s endorsement HERE.

Does America Have Any “Fiscal Space” Left? –
In an op-ed published at RealClearPolicy.com on June 21 entitled “The United States Has No Fiscal Space Left”, economists John Merrifield and Barry Poulson contend that fiscal policies and budgets currently being proposed by Congress and President Trump fall far short of what is needed.

They say, “Fiscal space is estimated as the distance between actual debt levels and their estimated limit.  Debt limits are measured by the level of debt at which the government defaults and loses market access, with the result that it cannot continue to service the debt.”

They argue, “[I]f the United States had enacted fiscal rules to constrain deficits and debt over the past two decades — as some OECD countries have done — the national debt could have been reduced below tolerance levels by relying on orthodox fiscal policies. Thus a modest reduction in the rate of growth in spending and entitlement reform could have balanced the budget.”

Read more about their recipe for a cyclically balanced US budget HERE, and in their forthcoming book Restoring America’s Fiscal Constitution (Lexington Press).

       More Article V-related News:

Heartland Institute Appoints New President –
The Illinois-based Heartland Institute has taped former 3-term Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp as its new president, replacing Joseph Bast who has led the free-market think tank since it was founded in 1984.  Heartland has been supportive of Article V efforts.

While in Congress, Huelskamp was a member of the influential House Freedom Caucus.  Prior to that he was a member of the Kansas State Senate for 14 years.

In an interview with The Hill Huelskamp said, “Since I have already been successful at driving innovative policies at both the state and federal level, I am confident that I can lead Heartland toward even greater success in promoting the cause of freedom in every state, and now in Washington, DC”.  Read that interview HERE.

Federal Debt Set to Grow by $1 Trillion in Coming Fiscal Year –
According to an article published June 29 by CNSNews.com, unless current laws are changed, CBO projections show that America will add $1 trillion to its current nearly $20 trillion debt, in spite of the 9.5% increase it expects the federal government to receive from individual income taxes that year.

Writer Terence Jeffrey reports that according to CBO’s projections, total 2018 taxes are projected to climb by to $3.531 trillion. That will include $1.724 trillion in individual income taxes; $1.195 trillion in payroll taxes; $324 billion in corporate income taxes; and $289 billion in other taxes.

Meanwhile CBO projections (spending expectations based on current law) a massive increase in the federal government’s debt next year.  According to this report of CBO’s expections, the gross federal debt will rise by $1.034 trillion.  Read the report HERE.

CfA Announces New VP of Development –
The Compact for America (CfA) group has announced the appointment of John Flores as Executive Vice President of Development for the Compact for America Educational Foundation, Inc.

CfA reports that Mr. Flores comes aboard with a track record of raising $20 million in the non-profit, political, and private sectors, while serving as the Chief Development Officer or Managing Director for numerous organizations, including the Faith and Freedom Coalition, The 410 Bridge, various private equity firms, and other affiliated organizations.

During the 2017 legislative year CfA has added a fifth state member to its compact to bring about a balanced budget amendment.  The Arizona legislature agreed to join the compact by adopting HB2226.  It did so in the House by a vote of 33 to 25, and later in the Senate by a vote of 17 to 12.

The CfA compact involves a pre-written proposed amendment, a pre-commitment for state delegates to vote for it in a brief Article V convention, and a pre-commitment by member legislatures to ratify the proposal.  The CfA approach requires sign-on by 38 states.

CoSP Effort in North Carolina Shot Down… For Now –
Former SC Senator Jim DeMint has been leading the charge for the Convention of States Project (CoSP) to get North Carolina legislators to adopt the CoSP application for an Article V convention.

The bill, SCR36, was approved in April in the NC Senate by a 29 to 20 vote, but then was shelved in the House Rules Committee.  On Thursday, June 29 the bill finally reached the House floor where it was defeated by a vote of 53 to 59.

The Raleigh, NC-based The News&Observer, “but the House later brought the issue back up and voted 66-45 to allow it to be considered again.  The resolution was sent to the House Rules Committee, and Speaker Tim Moore said it could be brought up for a vote again next year.”  Read their full report HERE.

Another BBA Proposal Introduced in Congress –
On June 29, Florida Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat, introduced a bill calling for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  This is yet another well-meaning Congressional BBA proposal, one of many that are repeatedly introduced in Congress… and go nowhere.

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Murphy also introduced a measure that would not allow members of Congress to receive pay if a budget wasn’t passed.

In introducing her BBA bill she said, “Our national debt is skyrocketing, and we are irresponsibly passing this burden on to our children and grandchildren—shackling them with unsustainable debt.  Just as every family and small business is expected to balance their budget, so should the federal government.  The only way to force Congress’ hand is to amend the US Constitution to require Congress to pass a balanced budget each and every year.”

Read the full report on Murphy’s proposal HERE.

Research Center Publishes Detailed Piece on CoSP & Article V –
Capitol Research Center produced a 20-page overview of the Convention of States Project (CoSP) movement and Article V, written by Matthew Vadum, senior vice president of the Center.

The in-depth document is entitled “Taking Back America the Constitutional Way”, subtitled “Is it time for a convention of the states?”  It quotes heavily from author and radio talk show host Mark Levin, supported by quotes from various American founding fathers and early historians.  Read the Vadum piece HERE.

Coming Events That Are Important to Article V & Federalism –
Dates to plan for:
July 19-21
44th Annual Meeting – American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – Denver –
Hyatt Regency Hotel.  Keynote speakers: Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and Steve
Forbes.  More info HERE.
July 21-23
Western Conservative Conference – Sponsored by the Centennial Institute – Denver –
Convention Center.  More info HERE.
July 19-22
10th Anniversary Freedom Fest – Paris Resort – Las Vegas, NV.  More info HERE.
July 31-August 5
Young America’s Foundation – 39th Annual National Conservative Student
Conference – Rice Hall – Washington, DC.  More details HERE.
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 –
Arizona – Hosted by the Arizona legislature.  More details HERE.

Who Said It?

“The plans now to be formed will certainly be defective,
as the (Articles of) Confederation has been found on trial to be.
Amendments therefore will be necessary
and it will be better to provide for them in an easy, regular, and
constitutional way, than to trust to chance and violence.”
George Mason, delegate from Virginia to the 1787 Philadelphia Convention
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