I have an eight year old and a six year old. With the latest news of an economy possibly sliding back into recession and projections of the federal debt going to 200% of GDP, I am increasingly fearful of what lies in store for them in ten or twelve years. We have to throttle back the in-creasingly exponential use of debt before we run out of time. 49 states have recognized that the power to borrow must be limited to some extent. It is simply stunning that the federal government stands nearly alone in maintaining unlimited power to “borrow” resources from voiceless future generations. More than that, the federal government’s lack of constitutional constraint on borrowing presents a looming disaster.
Our national approach to debt reminds me of those movies from Science or Discovery Channel of those beautiful seemingly indestructible suspension bridges that start gyrating because of a minor tremor or breeze and then because of some failed calculation or screwed up angle in construction, the gyrations build into massive waves, and eventually bring the whole bridge down. The Founders did a great job in most respects in designing our Constitution–mixing elements of democracy, aristocracy and monarchy to draw on the strengths of each and counterbalance the flaws of each so that our system could handle a heavy load of misguided majorities or minorities–but they forgot about protecting future generations from current generations’ potential for greed when it comes to easy credit. And they forgot about the unique power debt has to create unsustainable bubbles, not just in the economy, but also in government, because of the natural human incentive to live for the “now” at the expense of the future.
We don’t have much time to correct this tragic system design flaw.
There was a time when principled Americans could unite on common ground to solve common problems. Take for example the Arizona Constitution. Over one hundred years ago it imposed a debt limit, banned subsidies, prohibited the private use of public credit, and barred special privileges and immunities. These reforms represented a historic consensus of the Left, the Right and the Middle of its day. It represented lessons learned after a quarter century of Robber Barons abusing the system to subsidize their risky ventures with taxpayer dollars and credit.
It was good public policy whose time had come. Anyone could see it. Good people united to fix a problem. This story was repeated throughout the American West.
The Compact for America, which has already been introduced in state legislatures across the Nation, presents us with the same opportunity to fix a problem that is many orders of magnitude greater than that faced by Arizona’s founders. With our national debt now in excess of 100% of Gross Domestic Product, and projected to hit 200% soon, itis time to stop pointing fingers at who is responsible. We owe it to the next generation not to win a debate or an election, but to stop mortgaging their future. The Compact for America provides a way to fix the debt without requiring anyone to compromise their principles on matters of substantive public policy.
You only have to agree that it is wrong to burden nonvoting future generations with our policy choices.
You only have to agree that, if we have to raise more revenue to pay down the debt we’ve run up, and then we should do so with a flatter, fairer, less invasive, and more voluntary tax code.
The Compact for America is designed to find common ground to fix a problem that is almost out of hand. It is a unique non-partisan effort to organize the states quickly and efficiently around advancing a powerful Balanced Budget Amendment idea. This Amendment would require Washington to secure approval from a majority of state legislatures for any increase in the federal debt. It would regulate the use of debt to prevent its abuse by decentralizing Washington’s power to incur debt. By inviting state legislatures into the role of a national board of directors, the Compact for America would finally give thestates a seat at the table in Washington. At the same time, it would ensure national debt policymakers are more accessible to the people and that any increase in the federal debt reflects a broad national consensus.
Equally important, the Compact for America uses anagreement among the states to generate a “turn key” approach to originating this powerful Balanced BudgetAmendment. The Compact organizes its member states toapply to Congress for a convention to propose the BBAunder Article V of the U.S. Constitution; it designates and instructs member state delegates to advance solely the BBA; it specifies the convention location, agenda, committee structure, and rules; it limits the convention to a single 24 hour session devoted to an up or down vote on the BBA; it prohibits any other agenda and bars every member state from ratifying anything that might be proposed by the convention other than the BBA; and it pre-ratifies the BBA if it is approved by the convention and referred for ratification by Congress. The Compact for America also ensures the convention will be organized only if 38 states join the compact and only if Congress calls the convention in accordance with the Compact. This ensures that nothing happens until both ratification can be achieved without further legislative action and the convention logistics set out in the Compact obtain the status of both state and federal law and are guaranteed under the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution under current U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
In short, with the Compact for America, we finally have a practical, efficient, targeted and undeniably safe vehicle for originating a BBA.
If you have ten minutes to learn more, please watch the overview video at www.compactforamerica.org.
If you have the time or the financial wherewithal to helpsupport this effort, please let me know.