Article V: The False Solution to America’s Spending Problem
Anyone who is not living under a rock knows that the United States Federal Government has a tremendous amount of debt. Our Federal deficit and debt have increased exponentially over the past decade and the madness is not projected to stop any time soon. Calls for an Article V convention to add a balanced budged amendment to our constitution have accelerated as well, especially over the last few years. It is understandable that conservatives are infuriated over the lack of spending restraint in congress, but too many people are falling for the false solution of amending our constitution to stop the out-of-control spending. An Article V convention may seem like a viable solution on its surface, but when this issue is evaluated from a clear perspective, nothing could be further from the truth!
People calling for a convention of states have tried to assure us that nothing will go wrong, and they will take precautions such as calling for a convention that would be limited to a single topic or just a select few topics. There is a resolution in congress right now asking congress to call for a convention, claiming that the thirty-four-state threshold has been met. The irony is that in order to meet that threshold, they have to combine the resolutions that states passed calling for a convention for the purpose of adding a balanced budget amendment, with resolutions that states passed calling for a general convention that is not limited to a specific topic. You read that right!
A balanced budget amendment is not the right answer for a number of reasons. First of all, what is the definition of “balanced” and how long would congress have to “balance” the budget after the amendment is ratified? How would a balanced budget amendment be enforced? What would happen if congress didn’t “balance” their budget? Would “balanced” just apply to the budget blueprint that congress passes as a joint resolution, or would it apply when congress passes appropriations bills and the president signs them into law? Would it be good enough for congress to pass a budget that “balances” years in the future? Who will be the judge of if and when the budget “balances”? Whose numbers would be used to project if and when a budget will “balance”. It seems that every time a new federal program is introduced in congress there is disagreement between different individuals and groups as to how much revenue will be brought in to pay for the program over a certain amount of time, and how much the program will cost over that same amount of time. It only takes a simple internet search on the cost of programs like Obamacare, social security, or Medicare to prove this point.
Even if there was a clear definition of a “balanced budget” in the constitution with a clear definition of whose numbers would be used to determine that, why would congress suddenly be so willing to obey the constitution anyway? A “conservative” congress led by Paul Ryan approved all kinds of deficit spending for various programs and President Trump signed them into law, despite the fact that they were unconstitutional in the first place. In the same way several states including Wisconsin and California require balanced budgets in their constitutions, but that has not stopped various administrations from piling on more and more debt.
Some people would argue that if we added a balanced budget amendment to our constitution and congress didn’t “balance” the budget, the courts could step in and do it. Despite the fact that the courts could already stop any spending that is not authorized in the constitution, this is not the right course of action for many reasons and would likely open a can of worms. Law suits often take years and money cannot be unspent. Also, the Supreme Court does from time to time opine correctly but often it ignores the Constitution and gets it wrong. The Supreme Court has failed when they had opportunities to stop unconstitutional programs like Obamacare, using the excuse that the individual mandate is just a tax. Passing a balanced budget amendment would essentially put the entire federal budget up for review by the Supreme Court, placing control over the entire federal government in their hands. The principle of judicial review is controversial in the first place, but this would create an environment where an entirely new judicial concept of “budget review” could be created. If the Supreme Court held the entire budget in their hands, there would be nothing stopping the claim that unconstitutional programs are “ruled” to be constitutional just because their spending was upheld as “balanced”. In the same way there would be nothing stopping the Supreme Court from usurping the power of the purse from congress and ruling that taxes must be raised so the budget will balance. It is entirely likely that this would be a tool used by the left if they hold a majority on the Supreme Court. All kinds of progressive socialist programs could be pushed through congress and then we could be forced to pay for them with extremely high taxes. Allowing the Supreme Court to have review over the entire budget would violate the Maxim of Montesque which is the basis of the separation of powers doctrine. This would allow the Supreme Court to completely take over the responsibilities of the legislative and the executive branches, essentially leaving them at the court’s mercy.
It is also noteworthy that some proposals for a balanced budget amendment have an exceptions clause for an “emergency”. It could be argued that the United States has been in a declared state of “emergency” for decades! All it would take is an emergency declaration from congress and any and all unconstitutional spending would continue as it already does.
All of these issues mentioned are problematic enough, assuming a convention would be successful in the first place. Our first constitutional convention was itself a runaway convention. Our founders were given instructions to amend the Articles of Confederation, which required ratification of the amendments in the legislatures of all thirteen colonies. Instead, we ended up with an entirely new constitution with a new method of ratification, which only required ratification by nine colonies in conventions in the legislatures, not by consent of all thirteen legislatures! With this historical precedent there is nothing stopping this from happening again. We could come out of a convention with an entirely new constitution and an entirely new method of ratification!
On top of that there is the possibility of rioting and other violence to influence the decisions of the delegates at the convention. There would surely be an unimaginable amount of money spent on lobbying and the amount of pressure being put on delegates would be something that has not yet been seen in the history of the United States.
My state senator is one of the main people advocating for an Article V convention. During one of our discussions after one of his town hall meetings he told me that he is confident he can get support from Democratic legislators to pass a balanced budget amendment, as a way of assuring me that it could get done. This statement begs the question: If Democrats and Republicans are actually serious about balancing the budget, why doesn’t congress just get together and balance the budget right now? It is much simpler to pass a bill than it is to amend the constitution.
The fact is that the constitution itself is not the problem, so there is no amendment we could add that would actually solve it. Most of our elected officials are not even serious about cutting spending and balancing the budget. A large amount of conservatives in congress have consistently voted against a plan to cut spending by 1% and balance the budget in about five years. If all the time, energy, and effort being put into amending the constitution was directed at congress during the appropriations process, we could end up with a balanced budget.
The root of the problem though actually lies much deeper. The Federal Reserve functions as a printing press that never runs out of paper. Its very existence is unconstitutional in the first place, and it will exist even if we add a balanced budget amendment to our constitution. The central banking system that we have is actually one of the planks of The Communist Manifesto, and it was set up to fail. It is very telling that we have the banking system that was promoted by Karl Marx in his writings. One of the main goals of Marxism is to eliminate all national and local governments in favor of a one-world government that Marx called the New World Order. We are being led down the path towards a New World Order through the International Monetary Fund, which is the blueprint for a world central bank. Throughout the years, as currencies of various countries have failed, the International Monetary Fund has been there to bail them out through issuance of Special Drawing Rights, which are a pre-cursor to a fiat world currency. For a long time the dollar has been the world’s reserve currency, and if it fails, it would be the perfect opportunity for the International Monetary Fund to step in. The way things are going this seems inevitable, but there is a way we can address this problem with an actual solution.
An organization called Young Americans for Liberty has proven time and time again that the answer to our problems is through grassroots efforts from dedicated and principled individuals. Starting under the name Students for Ron Paul, Young Americans for Liberty has been carrying the torch of liberty since its inception. In 2018 they launched Operation Win at the Door, recognizing the need to elect principled liberty minded candidates at the state house level.
Candidates were vetted based on their loyalty to the constitution and libertarian/conservative principles. The candidates who qualified received and endorsement and YAL deployed activists to their district who knocked on doors and engaged with voters for six days a week. Since the start of these efforts, they have elected over 250 members to the Hazlitt Coalition and several legislators that were previously elected have joined, bringing their Hazlitt Coalition membership to 318.
Aside from getting principled individuals elected, Young Americans for Liberty holds their Hazlitt Coalition members accountable to the principles they were elected on in the first place. When legislators do not live up to the expectations set for them, door knockers are deployed to their district and tell their constituents to call their representative and urge them to vote correctly. If they do not correct themselves, they are removed from the coalition and someone else is recruited to run against them.
The success of Hazlitt Coalition has only grown over the last few years. In 2021 they passed 122 aligned bills and in 2022 that number grew to 1,325! In the state of New Hampshire, 60 out of 207 house republicans are members, and 2 out of 14 republicans in the senate are members, and that number is expected to grow after the election in November. The house has several members in leadership including committee chairs, the majority leader, and the assistant majority leader. Hazlitt members were able to repeal the death penalty, as well as pass the most liberty minded budget in the country which included tax cuts, spending cuts, as well as education freedom accounts.
Last year I personally lead deployments for Hazlitt Coalition to pass education opportunity accounts in Kentucky and constitutional carry in Texas. I worked six days a week with my team as we traveled to different districts and knocked on doors to inform constituents and have them call their representative to tell them to vote for our bill. It took less than twenty people to get these bills passed. If all it took was twenty dedicated people to get these bills passed, there is no reason that similar grassroots efforts cannot be expanded to the federal level.
For decades the John Birch Society has been holding congressmen and senators accountable to the Constitution. Twice a year The John Birch Society’s magazine, The New American, publishes The Freedom Index, which evaluates the twenty most important votes in the house and senate, and rates congressmen and senators based on their loyalty to the constitution. John Birch Society members regularly hand out copies of the Freedom Index at their congressmen and senator’s town hall meetings, which puts direct pressure on their representatives to obey their oath to the constitution. This method was used on former Montana congressman Denny Rehberg. He started with a constitutional compliance score around 30% and through this method he was eventually brought up to a score of 90%. If enough people are motivated to do this across the country, we can have a balanced budget!
While there are certain people promoting an Article V convention that are driven by ego and a desire to be the next John Adams, it is important to note that the vast majority of people that support an Article V convention are good-natured patriotic Americans. They just have not looked at the issue past its surface and have not had the opportunity to see the effective grassroots tactics mentioned above being put into action. If enough patriotic men and women join in these efforts, we can be successful in restoring the constitution and bringing fiscal sanity back to America!
Brandon has been working in grassroots politics for four years. His work has brought him to 17 states where he has helped get liberty minded individuals elected at the state and federal level. He has also led successful efforts to get bills passed in Kentucky and Texas and has also worked to prevent bad bills from passing. Through his writing he gives a view of the world from a paleo libertarian perspective. On his spare time he enjoys reading, weight lifting, running, bike riding, hiking, and listening to classic rock.
Published with permission of libertysentinel.org