November 2020 Newsletter

This Month…

  • 11/17 Caucus Webinar:Strengthening the American Voice
  • Nebraska Governor: Say No to State Bailouts
  • Federalism is Important – Even in a Pandemic
  • 3 Keys Suggested for Getting Federalism Going Again
  • US Federal Deficit Spending Tripled in Fiscal 2020
  • National Debt Projected to Explode Under Biden or Trump
  • To American Youth, Debt = Taxation W/O Representation
  • Constitutional Amendment Proposed to ‘Keep Nine’
  • Bi-Partisan Leaders Call for Congressional Term Limits
  • EditorialThe Democrat Who Fought for
    Federalism, Conservatism & Bi-Partisan Decision-Making
  • How the Convention of States Option Got Into Article V
  • Status of Article V Web Sites

Nov. 17 Caucus Webinar:Strengthening the American Voice –
Benjamin Franklin famously described the American form of government by saying it is “A republic if you can keep it.”  The State Legislators Article V Caucus and Path to Reform will hold the second in a four-part series of free webinars: Strengthening the American Voice at 8 PM Eastern Time on Tuesday, November 17.

The post-election webinar will feature Kevin Lundberg, former Colorado State Senator, Ken Ivory, former Utah State Representative, and Neal Schuerer, former Iowa State Senator.  They will reflect on the election through the lens of federalism and discuss how state leaders are the key voice to represent “We the People” and ensure that the American republic is kept in the future.

Register HERE now for this free webinar:

Those who missed the first webinar, Restoring the American Voice, can view it on Path To Reform’s YouTube Channel HERE.

Nebraska Governor: Say No to State Bailouts –
In an October 14 The Hill column, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts said, Congress should reject a state bailout.  We must remind Washington that we should preserve federalism and govern our own affairs as we emerge from these challenging times.  Washington stepped up to blunt the impact of the early shutdown. Now it’s time for the states to do their part.”

As the governor of a state with strong pay-as-you-go fiscal policies that have resulted in an AAA bond rating, Ricketts says, “It’s time for Congress to draw a line in the sand for states and to send a message that states should take responsibility for getting spending under control and managing their affairs. They should not reward years of mismanagement unrelated to the pandemic with a DC bailout, while making states like Nebraska foot the bill.”  Read the column HERE.

Federalism is Important – Even in a Pandemic –
In a recent piece headlined Federalism still important, even in pandemic
published by Utah Policy, Utah State Rep Merrill Nelson says, “Federalism is important and must be preserved, for as power shifts to Washington, with it go our individual liberties and rights of self-government.”

As he points out, “Federalism – the division of powers between the federal and state governments, is vital to our Republic.  The only check on federal power is state power.  Of course, the Tenth Amendment reserves most powers to the states, but Congress typically ignores that.”

Rep. Nelson says, “The Tenth Amendment should be required reading for all members of Congress – most do not understand the difference between Congress and state legislatures.  They seek to address the same problems, but with a national scope.  Over the past several decades, we have seen power shift progressively from the states to the federal government.  Unlike water, which flows downhill, government power tends to flow uphill – from local to state government and from states to the federal government.”

He says, “Under the current pandemic, the same rules of federalism should apply, leaving the response primarily to state and local governments.”  Read his views HERE.

3 Keys Suggested for Getting Federalism Going Again –
The October 15 edition of the newsletter Governing carried a column by Donald F. Kettl entitled “3 Keys to Getting the Federalism Conversation Going Again.”

Kettl says, “The first key is language: creating the basic information structure to make debate possible and action effective.  The inescapable reality of the coronavirus outbreak is that the American response has been crippled from the very beginning by our inability to figure out what’s going on.  In fact, we don’t even have a common way of talking about a ‘case’ or a ‘test,’ and in some states the most basic measures have shifted over the course of the pandemic.”

Kettle’s second key is “…creating a forum where we can explore the issues that matter.  As we have discovered during COVID-19, not only were each of the governors standing alone in charting a strategy, but there also simply wasn’t any forum for figuring out what a sensible strategy for the states ought to be.” 

Mr. Kettl suggests that the third key is investing in intellectual capital to shape the debate.  It’s hard to imagine a time when these intergovernmental issues were so hot that a president (in this case, Eisenhower) felt the need to appoint the blue-ribbon commission whose work led to the creation of the ACIR [the US Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations].  Launching such a high-level effort is probably beyond our reach today, but there’s a host of issues that need a deep dive.”  Read his views HERE.

US Federal Deficit Spending Tripled in Fiscal 2020 –
According to a report in the October 8 edition of the Wall Street Journal, “The US budget deficit tripled in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the Congressional Budget Office estimated” that day.

The WSJ report said, “The budget gap in the fiscal year 2020 widened to $3.1 trillion from $984 billion a year earlier, the nonpartisan CBO said.  As a share of economic output, the annual deficit reached 15.2%, the largest since 1945, when the country was financing massive military operations to help end World War II.”

According to writer Kate Davidson, “A surge of federal spending to combat the coronavirus and cushion the US economy, coupled with a drop-off in federal revenues amid widespread shutdowns and layoffs, contributed to the widening deficit this year, which in turn might have helped drive the national debt to more than 100% of gross domestic product.”  Read the entire article HERE.

National Debt Projected to Explode Under Biden or Trump –
The national debt now exceeds $27 trillion, and could reach twice the size of the economy within 30 years, according to a recently released report by the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget (CRB) and reported on in an October 9 posting by the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

The CRB report suggests that regardless which presidential candidate wins on November 3, the national debt will just keep on growing.  The extensive and heavily documented CRB report can be read HERE.

FEE writer Brad Polumbo posits that “the disastrous state of our public finance and runaway national debt is one of the most pressing issues facing our country.”  He summarizes the CRB report while saying, The latest budget reports offer another reminder that we can’t put our trust in Team Red or Team Blue to save the day.  Instead, we need to enshrine safeguards into the system itself, such as debt ceilings, mandatory spending cuts via long-term sequesters, or a balanced budget amendment.”  Read the FEE article HERE.

To American Youth, Debt = Taxation Without Representation –
A recent article by Brad Polumbo, published by the HuntForLiberty web site focuses on how the rapidly rising national debt is fleecing America’s young people.

Polumbo says, “The economics of the debt are straightforward enough, but it’s also important to understand the moral component of this issue.  The runaway national debt is a vast intergenerational transfer of wealth.  The benefits of today’s spending are largely reaped by today’s citizens, while the potential crisis-level costs are all left for future generations to bear.”  Read his views HERE.

Constitutional Amendment Proposed to ‘Keep Nine’ –
With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the appointment and confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the high court, there has been much talk about “packing the Supreme Court.”  A group known as Coalition to Preserve an Independent US Supreme Court, led by Ramone Buhler, is pushing for a constitutional amendment that would “Keep Nine.”

On October 19 a group of US Senators led by Ted Cruz (TX) with co-sponsors Martha McSally (AZ), Roger Wicker (MS), Kelly Loeffler (GA), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS) formally proposed the Keep Nine amendment.

The resolution for an amendment, SJ Res 76 simply says The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine Justices.”  The group has produced a brief video on the Keep Nine proposal HERE.  NOTE: Password to access the video is: GinsburgNine.

Bi-Partisan Leaders Call for Congressional Term Limits –
The October 6 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer carried a special column jointly written by the state’s Democrat former Governor Ed Rendell and current Republican US Senator Pat Toomey.  It was headlined “Term limits can end the entrenched partisan politics that put our country in crisis.”

The unlikely duo said, “Moving forward, we both believe that members of Congress should be subject to term limits.  And Pennsylvania can help make that happen.”

They said, “Now, in the midst of another crisis, members of Congress frequently focus more on blaming each other than on finding solutions.  Entrenched politicians have been steering the ship of state for decades and — don’t look now — we’re about to hit a $25 trillion national debt iceberg.  It’s time for a new approach.

“Our elected representatives seem afraid to do anything that would jeopardize their reelection.  Term limits allow them to operate without that pressure, secure in the knowledge that they are not risking the position that could be a lifetime career.  They would be able to cast votes knowing that the risk they are taking would not jeopardize their entire future.”

The article said that 76% of Pennsylvanians support term limits on Congress, including supermajorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents.  Read the joint opinion piece HERE.

Editorial
The Democrat Who Fought for
Federalism, Conservatism & Bi-Partisan Decision-Making
By Stuart MacPhail, Editor
Josiah W. Bailey is a man modern day legislators should get to know.  He was an influential member of the Southern Democratic Conservative Party and served as a US Senator for North Carolina from 1931 until his death in 1946.  That means he was a US Senator during the time President Franklin Roosevelt was promoting and implementing his “New Deal.”

Bailey was motivated to help answer the growing Depression-related needs of the public, but wanted do so while adhering to the traditional values of individualism, hard work, self-help, balanced budgets, strong local governments and administrative efficiency.  He respected Roosevelt as a leader and believed that Roosevelt intended to be moderate in order to not fracture the nation.  But he believed that the struggles of the Great Depression were causing Franklin to abandon the conservatives of both parties.

In 1937 Bailey was still in agreement with Franklin’s reasons for the New Deal (to promote enterprise while cracking down on what Franklin believed were extreme corporate profits).  But he believed FDR’s programs were leading America down the road to collectivism.  He believed that limitations should be placed on government growth.  By that point the US was experiencing an economic recession that was at least partly due to Roosevelt’s severe restrictions on business interests.  That was also the year Roosevelt attempted to “pack” the Supreme Court.

Senator Bailey decided to rally bi-partisan opposition to certain of FDR’s New Deal programs.  He attracted reluctant senatorial New Dealers and anti-New Dealers (Republicans and Democrats) to join him in drafting what they called The Conservative Manifesto, to serve as a plan for national economic recovery.

Among other points, their plan called for: revision and reduction of taxes in order to free up investment funds; reduction of government spending to achieve a balanced federal budget; termination of “unnecessary” government competition with private enterprise; recognition that private investment and enterprise require a reasonable profit; amplify the principles of federalism; and, rely on “the American form of government and the American system of enterprise.”

Bailey was the principle face behind the “Manifesto” as other Senators feared reprisals for standing up against FDR.  He was not opposing FDR as much as he was trying to remind him that there needed to be a balance between private enterprise and government.  He was also trying to stress the need for bi-partisan support for measures addressing the current recession.

Senator Bailey’s across-the-aisle efforts and their manifesto did prove to restrain further New Deal programs, and helped move the country out of the recession.  Just as important, Bailey’s efforts marked a change in how politics worked… at least during the immediately following era.  It would be great if there were more bi-partisan-minded Josh Baileys serving our states and nation today.

How the Convention of States Option Got Into Article V –
In a new video, Mark Meckler of the Convention of States Project and Rick Green of Patriot Academy are shown sitting in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, informally discussing how… on September 15, 1787, just two days before the end of the Constitutional Convention… delegate George Mason noticed that somehow, contrary to earlier versions of Article V, the nearly final version gave all amendment powers exclusively to the federal government.

Mason immediately proposed adding the second option: “or on the Application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution…”  Recognizing the wisdom of Mason’s observations, with no debate, his proposal was quickly given unanimous approval.  Watch the 4-minute video HERE.

Status of Article V Web Sites –

  • Friends of the Article V Convention (FOAVC) bills itself as the oldest non-partisan national organization dedicated to bringing about an Article V Convention.”  Organized in 2007 by 6 co-founders, former Chief Justice of the Michigan State Supreme Court Thomas E. Brennan was the most prominent of the group’s leaders.  Brennan founded the Thomas M. Cooley Law School (now known as Western Michigan Cooley Law School – Lansing, Michigan) in 1972.  Judge Brennan passed away in September 2018.

Second in command at FOAVC was Bill Walker.  He was instrumental in helping to gather, for the first time in US history, the public record of state applications for a convention call into a single photographic record presenting the full text of the state applications.  Previously published lists of state applications only presented Congressional Record citations but did not present the text of the applications.  Through Mr. Walker’s efforts an additional 200 application records that were never previously listed in prior publications were uncovered in the Congressional Record and published on the FOAVC site for the first time.

This past Spring Bill Walker died… but the site lives on, maintained by his associates.  Go to questions@foavc.org to make contact with the current site operators.

  • The Article V Library operated by attorney Robert Biggerstaff, was unreachable for a few months this year due to web host difficulties.  It is now intermittently back in business at http://article5library.org/, and still contains large volumes of information about Article V.

Biggerstaff started the Article V Library several years ago with the goal of having the most complete possible electronic source of Article V-related materials with accurate citations, research notes, that is searchable by full text.  It seeks to do what Congress has failed to do: maintain a complete and public index of all state Article V applications and related documents.

  • The Resources section of the State Legislators’ Article V Caucus web site does not compete with either of the above recommended sites.  Rather, it contains a wide array of Article V-related articles, papers and books on topics ranging from the history of Article V; research on specific Article V topics; myths about adoption of the 1787 Constitution; information about specific Article V campaign issues; and research on federalism, the electoral college, voting issues… plus contact information for the various Article V-related groups.
  • The ArticleV.blog, operated by Doug Leitzke of Menominee, MI, is a relatively new Article V web site.  It has a Forum, and focuses on publishing Article V-related opinions.

Good Related Reads –

  • A Fiscal Cliff, a $19.95 book subtitled “New Perspectives on the US Federal Debt Crisis,” by economists John Merrifield and Barry W. Poulson.

This new book is a series of essays by 17 scholars, economists and policymakers assessing current minimal US fiscal constraints, and provides new perspectives that are desperately needed in order to solve the nation’s debt crisis.  The book suggests that “unless we reform our fiscal rules and institutions, we are not likely to solve the debt crisis and restore sustainable fiscal policies.”   The book is available from the CATO Institute HERE.

  • The Little Federal Model, a free paper written by Dennis Haugh, written as a challenge to the 1964 Supreme Court decision in Reynolds v. Simms, the so-called “one man one vote” decision.

Haugh says “The reaction of the states was fairly swift in that applications for an Article V convention poured in to overturn the ruling.  The movement just barely fell short, and the states capitulated to the Court by 1969.”  He suggests that “the tyranny of democracy” is wrecking states like California.  Read it HERE.

A Thought to Ponder –
“The two-party system has served America well for two centuries,
but the government it oversees has evolved into a vast
rent-seeking and redistribution apparatus the founders never envisioned.  Reforms Americans might want seem permanently blocked
by Beltway influencers.”
 
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Columnist
Wall Street Journal – October 21, 2020

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