Don’t Embrace Big Federal Government, Support the Compact for a Balanced Budget

By Nick Dranias

Yes, it’s true. The handful of folks who still oppose states organizing behind the Compact for a Balanced Budget to advance and ratify a powerful federal Balanced Budget Amendment embrace big federal government. Of course, they may not mean to do so. But the truth is that by hugging and holding the political status quo, the Balanced Budget Amendment fear-mongers are in a death embrace with the things they claim they oppose.

Why is that? Simply put, we no longer enjoy the form of federal government the Founders originally created. This is because the Constitution as it currently exists has three fatal flaws, which will inexorably lead to tyranny unless they are fixed with a constitutional amendment.

The first is the federal government’s unlimited borrowing capacity. This enables politicians to promise at no immediate cost anything it takes to get elected. That’s like handing liquor and car keys to a teenager. It guarantees a system crash propelled by mindless spending.

The second is unlimited direct taxation authority courtesy of the 16th Amendment. This empowers politicians to make 49% of the nation pay for anything the 51% want; and also to impose complete economic destruction on political enemies and disfavored policy ideas. If this flaw persists, what the IRS did to conservative groups two years ago is just a small taste of what the future holds.

The third is the unlimited concentration of power over national policy making in Washington, DC courtesy of the 17th Amendment. This amendment removed the states from a position of control over the U.S. Senate. It has enabled the federal government to ratify treaties and laws, as well as populate the federal judiciary and federal agencies, without any respect for state sovereignty. And it allows a growing distant political class in Washington, DC to easily leverage overwhelming national power to crush dissent and policy diversity in the heartland.

These three flaws will cause the federal government to gradually accumulate and centralize all political power over time. Over time, these three flaws will make it impossible for limited government and freedom-oriented elected officials to outcompete elected officials who favor big federal government for votes. Consequently, hugging and holding this fatally flawed system is doomed to produce the opposite of freedom. To mix metaphors, voting people in or out of the federal government under these conditions is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Only a constitutional amendment can fix the three fatal flaws of the Constitution as it currently exists. Nothing else will.

But it is irrational to expect two-thirds of each house of Congress to propose the necessary reform. The numbers did not add up in the 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s, and they just do not add up today. Instead, especially after the last election, there is a much more plausible pathway; that pathway involves organizing three-fourths of the states and simple majorities of Congress behind the necessary reform amendment in a targeted fashion. It means supporting the Compact for a Balanced Budget.

Simply put, the Balanced Budget Amendment advanced by the Compact for a Balanced Budget gives us the best shot of addressing each of the Constitution’s three fatal flaws with fundamental reforms.

To fix the flaw of unlimited federal borrowing capacity, the Amendment imposes an initially-fixed constitutional limit on available borrowing capacity. This limit gives the federal government an additional 5% in borrowing capacity above the outstanding federal debt upon ratification. This 5% cushion allows for a 1 to 2 year transitional period to responsible budgeting and fiscal planning. And there is no doubt the amendment will focus the mind during that transitional period. This is because the debt limit is coupled to a mandatory spending impoundment requirement that kicks-in when 98% of the debt limit is reached. Spending will be limited to available tax and fee cash flow if the debt limit is hit. There is no exception except for the referendum process described below. This one reform guarantees that Washington politicians will immediately lose the ability to promise anything at no immediate cost to get elected.

To fix the flaw of the unlimited centralization of national policy making in Washington, the Amendment empowers a majority of state legislatures to veto any increase in the federal government’s constitutionally-fixed borrowing capacity. To get any additional borrowing capacity above the initial constitutional baseline, simple majorities of Congress will have to refer-out a measure proposing the increase. The proposal will be deemed denied unless it is approved by at least twenty-six state legislatures within 60 days of the referral. With the federal government borrowing nearly half of discretionary spending, this referendum process divides power over national policy making between the states and the federal government in a big way.

Finally, to fix the flaw of unlimited federal taxation authority, the Amendment imposes a tax limit requiring two-thirds of each house of Congress to approve any new or increased income or sales tax. The current constitutional rule allowing for tax increases with simple majorities will be restricted to measures that would completely replace the income tax with a consumption sales tax, eliminate tax loopholes, or impose new or increased tariffs and fees. The reform will divert the pressure for new revenue to the places where special interest pushback will be the strongest, further ensuring that deficits are closed by spending reductions first.

National polling shows that each one of these policy fixes are supported by supermajorities of the American people. With Alaska and Georgia already on board, and at least ten states looking to join the Compact this session, the Compact for a Balanced Budget is an eminently plausible route to the reforms we need to save and restore the Republic.

Indeed, with demographic change threatening the supermajorities needed to get the job done, the Compact for a Balanced Budget may be our last best shot at preventing the federal tyranny that will otherwise inevitably result from the Constitution’s three fatal flaws of unlimited debt, unlimited taxation, and unlimited centralization of power in Washington.

Nick Dranias is President and Executive Director of the Compact for America Educational Foundation. Please visit their website at www.CompactforAmerica.org.

Congressman Flake Disappointed by Failure of Balanced Budget Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 2011
CONTACT: Genevieve Frye Rozansky

Congress Proves Once Again That It’s Not Serious About Fiscal Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona’s Sixth District, today expressed disappointment by the defeat of H.J. Res. 2, which proposes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

“You’d think that the national debt hitting $15 trillion this week would have been enough of a wake-up call for Congress to address our fiscal crisis,” said Flake. “I still believe that it’s not too late for Congress to tackle our budget crisis and get the country back onto solid fiscal footing. But the longer Congress waits to act, the more inevitable a Greek-like collapse of our economy becomes.”

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Senator Jon Kyl: Stemming the Tide of Red Ink

By Senator Jon Kyl

On August 22, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero announced that Spain would be the latest European country to adopt strict limits on budget deficits and debt. Zapatero, leader of Spain’s Socialist Party, quickly secured backing for the proposal from the opposition conservative People’s Party, which means the budget limits will likely pass through Spain’s parliament by a huge bipartisan margin.

Spain’s move comes in the wake of a wider European movement towards greater fiscal restraint spawned by Germany. In 2009, with a similar wide coalition of conservatives and leftists, the Germans passed the so-called “debt brake”– a constitutional amendment that prohibits a deficit greater than 0.35 percent of GDP (to put this in perspective, our deficit as a percentage of GDP has grown to nearly 25 times as large under President Obama).

Other European economies are now following Germany’s example. France and Italy, for instance, have also proposed similar ideas in recent weeks. With Greece just a short train ride away, these countries now understand the dangers of runaway deficits and debt.

It is about time we enacted something similar here in the United States. For free-spending Europe to be more aggressive on fiscal responsibility than us says less about how far Europe has come than how far we’ve fallen. Indeed, our fiscal position has become very dire. The federal government is now borrowing more than 40 cents of every dollar it spends. Our $14.6 trillion debt will continue to grow at a quickening pace and threaten our economy, our jobs, and the American way of life itself – unless we do something now to stop it.

I personally favor a mechanism to cap spending at a set percentage of GDP. Federal spending today is about 24 percent of GDP, well over the historical average and far more than we can afford as a nation. A more responsible level would be 18 percent. But there are other ways to get at this problem. For instance, as part of the legislation passed in early August to end the impasse over the debt ceiling, Republicans insisted on including a provision that will force Congress to vote on a balanced budget amendment by the end of the year. Congress should support it so that the states, through their legislatures, could vote on it.

In the 1990s, the balanced budget amendment came within one vote of the two-thirds margin necessary for passage. This year, Republicans in the Senate are unanimous in support of this common-sense idea, and some Democrats may support it as well.

Recent polling shows support for a federal balanced budget amendment hovering around 75 percent. It’s hard to think of another major policy issue with such broad support across political dividing lines.

At the same time, it’s unfortunate we even need such an amendment. Ideally, elected leaders should simply govern responsibly by making government live within its means. Yet, realistically, we know that will not always be the case.

To be sure, digging out of this fiscal crisis will be difficult – we cannot solve this with one cut, one bill, or even a constitutional amendment. It will take dedication and years of fiscal discipline, but we can get there.

Our European allies are showing us that traditional adversaries on the left and right can come together to enact sensible limits on deficits and debt. While every country will take its own way forward, some with better ideas than others, here in the U.S. it’s past time for us to act in a bipartisan way.

Sen. Jon Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his website at www.kyl.senate.gov or his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/senjonkyl.

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Grantham wants balanced budget amendment, blames Congress, President for credit downgrade

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2011
CONTACT: Evan Kozlow

Grantham wants a balanced budget amendment, blames Congress and the President for the credit downgrade

Gilbert, AZ – Travis Grantham, candidate for Arizona’s Sixth Congressional District released the following statement on the heels of the downgrade of the US Credit Rating by Standard & Poor’s reiterating his support for a balanced budget amendment and significant cuts in spending.

“The United States Congress and our President failed our country by passing a debt limit increase bill that did nothing for our reckless spending habits and skyrocketing debt. The American people deserve more from their representatives than a simple patchwork that only pushes the problem down the road while continuing to erode our economy.”

“As citizens, we must elect leaders that will change the way Washington does business. Cut, Cap, and Balance should be reintroduced by the Republican controlled house and our party leaders should stand together and force a vote in the Senate. It is our time to stand on principle and do what is right for the American people. Those who have fought and died for this country and those who are defending her abroad deserve to be represented by individuals that do not take our freedoms, liberty, and way of life for granted.”

“I call on all Americans to demand more accountability from their government. America’s future as the greatest and brightest beacon of economic freedom is hanging in the balance.”

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Travis Grantham is a candidate for Arizona’s Sixth Congressional District. He serves as the Chief Operations Officer at International Air Response based at the Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport. He is also a Captain and Pilot in the Arizona Air National Guard’s 161st Air Refueling Wing based out of Sky Harbor International Airport. Travis lives in Gilbert with his wife Patricia and two daughters. 

For more information go to GranthamForCongress.com

 

 

Rep. Schweikert discusses Balanced Budget Amendment with Judge Napolitano

Congressman David Scweikert recently appeared on Fox Business with Judge Napolitano to discuss his views on the Balanced Budget Amendment. Here is that interview:

Rep. Trent Franks Votes Against Debt Ceiling Hike

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 2, 2011
CONTACT: Ben Carnes

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-02), on the heels of his vote against the debt ceiling plan proposed yesterday, released the following statement, reiterating his remarks last night on the House floor emphasizing the vital importance of a Balanced Budget Amendment:

“It is simply undeniable at this point that Democrats do not grasp the threat posed by our perpetual deficit spending and ever-ballooning debt. Even as the debt ceiling has been raised yet again, Democrats, who claim to support a Balanced Budget Amendment, despite having opposed BOTH Balanced Budget Amendment proposals that passed the House, have again made certain to include numerous exceptions into the debt ceiling legislation, so that a Balanced Budget Amendment to permanently fix our deficit spending problem is not a requirement, but an option they can opt out of at a later date.

“Lip service to a balanced budget it no longer enough. All financial budgets will eventually balance. That includes the budget of the United States government. No individual, family, no business, and no government can indefinitely continue to spend more money than they take in without someone having to make up the difference. The question before our nation now is whether our budget will balance due to proactive work by those of us sent to fix the broken system in Washington, or by financial calamity due to the unwillingness of so many to stop a disaster when we had the opportunity to do so.”

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Congressman Franks is serving his fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the Judiciary Committee, where he serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and a member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law. He is also a member of the Armed Services Committee, where he serves on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

Rep. Quayle Votes No on Final Debt Ceiling Deal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 1, 2011
CONTACT: Richard Cullen

WASHINGTON (DC) Congressman Ben Quayle (R-AZ) released the following statement Monday after voting against the amended Budget Control Act:

“Last week I voted for the Boehner plan because— while imperfect—it made adequate strides to get our fiscal House in order. The final debt-ceiling bill, however, goes in a direction that I cannot support. Due to the design of the bill’s trigger mechanism, I am concerned that President Obama will be able to use the threat of tax hikes and drastic defense cuts to continue to amass record levels of spending.

“Though I didn’t support today’s bill, I want to commend Speaker Boehner and the House Republican Leadership for changing the culture in Washington and compelling Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration to finally recognize how central America’s debt problem truly is.

“On another note, it was a very special moment seeing Congresswoman Gabby Giffords cast her vote on the House Floor tonight. Both sides of the aisle greeted her with a loud standing ovation. It was a nice way to end what has been a very tense few days in the House.”

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Congressman Flake Votes Against Debt Deal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 1, 2011
CONTACT: Genevieve Frye Rozansky

Greater Congressional Spending Restraints Needed

Washington, D.C. – Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona’s Sixth District, today voted against the revised version of the Budget Control Act of 2011.

“I don’t think that this deal takes into account the severity of the budget crisis we face. The age-old trick in Washington is to produce a ten-year budget with serious cuts only taking effect in later years. This deal continues that practice. Additionally, the requirement for a balanced budget amendment, which was included in the Boehner bill, was excluded from the final legislation.”

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Rep. Schweikert Votes Against The Budget Control Act of 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 1, 2011
CONTACT: Rachel Semmell

Washington, D.C. – Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) made the following statement after he voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011:

“While this deal was well-intended and skillfully negotiated, I cannot in good faith vote for a bill I know does not do enough to bend the curve of our rapidly escalating debt.

“When looking solely at the numbers, the amount of cuts in the 2012 and 2013 budget cycles are not nearly enough, and these are the only two cycles under the control of this Congress. I remain concerned about holding future Congresses accountable to cap spending at our requested levels.

“Though I feel this measure is inadequate, I am proud of House Republicans for shifting the conversation from spending and borrowing to reducing the size and cost of government. It is a positive sign, and slowly but surely Washington is waking up to how massive our debt really is.

“I was sent here to grow the economy, stand up to the president’s tax-and-borrow bailouts, and stop the avalanche of debt. However, we simply must do more.”

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Rep. Schweikert Statement on the Budget Control Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 29, 2011
CONTACT: Rachel Semmel

Washington, D.C. – Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, made the following statement after he voted in support of S.627, The Budget Control Act of 2011:

“I had previously been concerned that the original plan did not go far enough to address the unease of the markets and rating agencies in regards to the projection of our exploding debt.

“I am now pleased to support this legislation after Speaker Boehner took a bold step to ensure a Balanced Budget Amendment must pass the House and be sent to the states before President Obama receives any additional debt ceiling increase.

“When I came to Washington, I made a promise to the people of Arizona’s 5th District that something serious and genuine needed to be done to save our country from an avalanche of debt. This bill is another key step House Republicans have taken in that process.

“I encourage the Senate Majority and the President to not only start participating in solving our debt crisis, but to quickly pass this bill and save our economic future.

“Now is the time for scare tactics, half-measures, and phantom cuts to end.”

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