Amendment to limit national debt will appeal to states

by Nick Dranias
Goldwater Institute

Any effort to call for an amendments convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution must “make the sale” to 34 state legislatures and “close the deal” with 38 states to ratify any amendment. Resolutions to apply for a convention must consider the political appeal of potential suggestions. The National Debt Relief Amendment sets the standard for a highly marketable idea.

The National Debt Relief Amendment says, “An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate States.” Anyone can understand what this means: 26 state legislatures would have to “co-sign” for any increase of the federal debt.

Rather than introducing an entirely new idea into the Constitution, this amendment would balance federal power with the power of the states, just like other checks and balances in the Constitution. In fact, the amendment would move the constitutional system closer to its original design—restoring a portion of the power and representation the states had before the 17th Amendment replaced state legislative election of senators with popular elections. What state legislator of any political persuasion will refuse a bigger voice and more power relative to the federal government? At the same time, the people’s right to vote for their U.S. senator remains fully protected.

In short, everyone wins with the National Debt Relief Amendment, except those who think we need unlimited federal debt. It is the first genuinely marketable amendment that’s missing from the Constitution. A similarly powerful pitch is needed by anyone undertaking the monumental task of amending the Constitution through the Article V process.

Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: Amending the Constitution by Convention: A Complete View of the Founders’ Plan

Goldwater Institute: Learning from Experience: How the States Used Article V Applications in America’s First Century “A powerful idea whose time has come Model legislation


  1. How many times have you reposted the same basic post. We get it you want a convention.

    You continue to fail to address the basics of how it all would work.

    How would reps be selected?

  2. Nick is trying to reframe his “we need a constitutional convention” argument again.

    He has provided no net new information and is trying to confuse good constitutional conservatives….

    When delegates are called into convention to amend a legal document such as the constitution, their authority is GREATER than the contents of that document itself.

    Therefore, Article V cannot restrain them.

    Your “study” will not demonstrate otherwise.

    There is no historical evidence to the contrary.

    You have no data and no other evidence that demonstrates otherwise.

    You have mentioned “sanctions” on the delegates in the past.

    However, there is nothing to stop the delegates from deciding to bear the consequences of the “sanctions” and proceed to make any modifications they want anyway.

    Further, they could even modify the document to remove any sanctions against constitutional convention delegates and then there will be no sanctions.

    The founding fathers provided for a way to modify the constitution and that is the amendment process.

    For example, why didn’t a call go out for a general constitutional convention for the marriage amendment? Because it was INAPPROPRIATE.

    Just as it is in this case.

    Just as I pointed out before, Nick, all you do is retread your same arguments and unsubstantiated OPINIONS over and over. You bring nothing new to the table. Nor will your “study” nor can it.

    Why? Because it’s concocted and you have ZERO historical evidence or data to prove your case.


    You are doing a disservice to real constitutioanal conservatives by misinforming them.

    The founders were clear on this subject. You are desparately trying to read into their words and deeds something that doesn’t exist and NEVER existed.

    The consequence will be that we lose our precious constitution because of your highly educated elitist ignorance.

    Since Nick is just posting his same retread arguments over and over without actually addressing legitimate concerns or providing any substantiating evidence for his position relative to those concerns, so will I!

  3. Now Nick has developed a list of “common objections” and his repsonses.

    However, every single one of the objections are red herrings and do not address the main problems with his assertions which are that

    a) he can’t prove a word he says
    b) he has no evidence, historical or otherwise to support his assertions.

    He references others’ opinions as evidence, but those people just reiterate the same baseless opinions that Nick writes.

    Nick has not posted a single new assertion but just restates his same unevidence opinions over and over and over attempted to rephrase them each time for the purposes of fooling good constitutional conservatives.

  4. Keeping in mind that the Constitutional Convention was an outgrowth of a monetary conference held at Annapolis, one should be wary of tinkering in this manner!

    Be careful of what you ask for, you just might get it!

    There are other, safer avenues to take to re-establish relationship parities between the state and federal governments.

  5. Joel S. Hirschhorn says

    Daily events tell intelligent people that the current corrupt political system will never fix itself or the nation. Of course we need an Article V convention. The facts justifying it appear daily in the news. To oppose a convention makes you a constitutional hypocrite and traitor. Go to to learn all the facts and join the national nonpartisan effort to get the first convention.

  6. There are facts justifying a balanced budget amendment, sure.

    But not a constitutional convention.

    Constitutional conservatives oppose this because they know it will be hijacked to get rid of the positive legacy the founding fathers left us.

  7. Nick Dranias says

    I challenge Oberserve to a debate anywhere anytime between December 26 and 30, 2010. Call me. 602-462-5000 x221.

  8. Nick, just tell us who you are working with on this first?

    Former Comtroller General Olson? Who else?

    Who is really behind this? Who is making donations to Goldwater to advance this? You guys dont do studies for free.

    Come clean and I’ll think about calling you.

  9. If Nick is willing to make the call a conference call, I would happy to join the debate he mentions. Nick has my email address and knows how to contact me. Oberserve needs to realize how wrong he is. Nick needs to mention the states have already applied in sufficient number to get a convention call on the matter of a balanced budget alone. See And at the site the question of how a convention is organized is answered.

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