Tag Archives: Balanced Budget Amendment

NO to An Article V Convention (AKA Con Con)

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill

In a recent series of articles, my CDN colleague Bruce MacIsaac has argued for calling a Constitutional Convention (AKA an Article V Convention) and has proposed, by his own admission, „numerous amendments to the Constitution.”

Among these (admittedly laudable) amendments are ones to repeal the 16th and 17th Amendment, but also the monstrous „Balanced Budget Amendment.”

But even if all of his legislative proposals were good, it wouldn’t matter. The hell is paved with good intentions.

The fact is that an Article V Convention (AKA a Con-Con) would mean the end of the current Constitution, of the liberties of US citizens, and of the Republic as we know it.

Firstly, who would call the tune?

Firstly, let’s ask ourselves: who would appoint the delegates to an Article V Convention, and in what manner? How many delegates would be appointed? From what backgrounds? And what would their mandate be? To amend the current Constitution or to write an entirely new one?

Who will answer these questions?

Answer: the Congress. Specifically, the CURRENT Congress.

The same Congress that gave America a $17 trillion debt, nearly brought America to a first-ever default on its obligations in August 2011, and which utterly refuses to the blatant usurpations of power by the Executive and Judicial Branches. The same Congress where John Boehner is House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi the Minority Leader (and potential future Speaker), Harry Reid the Senate Majority Leader, and Mitch McConnell the Senate Minority Leader. This is the gang you’d be entrusting with appointing the delegates and setting their agenda.

Are those people really the ones you want to entrust your, your family’s, and your country’s future to? Because that’s EXACTLY what you’ll be doing if you support an Article V Convention.

And even if the delegates’ mandate is very narrow, what’s to stop them from writing, proposing, and adopting a new Constitution? Nothing.

Remember that the original Constitutional Convention’s mandate was only to amend the Articles of Confederation. Yet, it went far beyond that mandate and proposed an entirely new Constitution that created, for the first time ever, a federal government.

There’s nothing to stop a new Con Con from doing the same.

But if it is called and does so, you can bet it will propose a socialist constitution that will ban the private ownership of guns and limit religious freedom for Christians. You will be doing away with the greatest Constitution the world has ever known, and replacing it with a socialist system.

You say, „Oh, don’t worry, anything that a Con Con proposes would have to be ratified by ¾ of the states!” Really? Where does it say so? In the current Constitution. But the new, socialist constitution could have an entirely new method of ratification (just like the current Constitution did) – e.g. by a simple majority vote in both houses of Congress, or just the Senate.

I’ll say it again: if a Con Con is called, the current Constitution – the greatest document the world has ever known other than Magna Carta – will be done away with. Forever.

Finally, let’s remember one simple fact. Who is it that governs this country? Who is it that calls the tune in the US of A?

Why, of course the Congress, the President, the SCOTUS, and all the lobbyists and special interest groups on which the elected branches of government depend.

Look at how much power they have – over you, your family, your community, your state, and the country as a whole.

DO YOU REALLY THINK THEY WILL GIVE AWAY THAT POWER, OR SHARE IT WITH THE COMMON CITIZEN, OR ALLOW AVERAGE AMERICANS TO DESIGN AMENDMENTS TO TAKE THAT POWER AWAY FROM THEM?

OF COURSE NOT!

And that defeats the whole point of a Con-Con. If anything, the federal government will get even bigger, more intrusive, more oppressive, and more expensive if a Con-Con is called.

Anyone who, at this point, calls for an Article V Convention is either a shallow, ignorant idiot or a deceitful, lying bastard.

But nonetheless, I’m still amazed how easily Tea Party People are fooled and manipulated by wolves in sheep’s clothing like Tom Coburn and Mark Levin (both of whom support a Con-Con). It seems that Tea Partiers are so naive that all a wolf has to do to fool them is to put on his sheep’s clothing and start lying – and they will listen to him and blindly follow him.

Folks, do not allow wolves in sheep’s clothing to manipulate you! Do not support an Article V Convention. For if you do and it is called, there will be no turning back. The current Constitution will be consigned to the dustbin of history, and YOU will be co-responsible.

The fiscal cliff could be the country’s cure

imagesCAH96SOT-Harry, Obama, and Nancy2

According to Wikipedia’s definition of the fiscal cliff Americans could suffer a little more short term pain for a lot more long term gain. Americans are used to suffering these last four years so what’s another few more?

The fiscal cliff by their definition is a number of different laws which if left unchanged could lead to tax increases, spending cuts, and a deficit reduction. Two out of the three are just what the doctor ordered. It is only the first one that could create a problem.

According to the United States Treasury Department the George W. Bush Tax Cuts are a major part of the solution not the problem. These tax cuts have become the political football for the Democrats to play with. They rail against them because they don’t fit their narrative however when push comes to shove they always vote to renew them. The Democrats never seem to suffer politically because the propagandist’s in the media always provide cover for them.

The Democrats treat the middle class like their red headed stepchildren. They use scare tactics like the fiscal cliff in order to keep voters on edge and loyal to their party. Then when the time is right they trash Republicans as being obstructionists and play the role of savior by saving the middle class from inevitable ruin by renewing the tax cuts. The best actors and actresses are not in Hollywood. They are in the Democratic Party.

The Bush Tax Cuts are not just a political football for Republicans to kick around; they are sound fiscal policy. They are proven job creators and have been tremendously beneficial to the middle class by shifting a larger share of the individual income taxes paid from lower income earners to higher income earners. These tax cuts have actually helped and in some cases even eliminated the tax burden on lower and middle income Americans. It is for this reason that these tax cuts need to be made permanent and a mandatory part of the negotiations. For more on this see this article. http://www.examiner.com/article/how-to-end-the-class-warfare-argument?cid=db_articles

The second part of the fiscal cliff is spending cuts. Do you hear the crickets? Of course spending cuts! The last time I check our deficit was almost 17 trillion with a capital T. Our government has been spending more than it has been taking in for years and it needs to stop. We need to cut all the wasteful programs out of our government and the ones we keep should be returned to the states where they could be run more efficiently.

Another thing we can do is to immediately restore the work requirement for welfare. Ronald Reagan once famously said, “Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence. He then goes on to say, “The best and most effective social program the government can help create is a job.” Reagan left no ambiguity as to how he felt towards big government when he famously quipped, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Being on welfare should never be a permanent financial solution for anyone. Removing the work requirement just adds to more government dependency which is exactly what most in the Democratic Party want. This policy is bad for the economy because it dramatically increases spending and allows recipients to become more complacent and ultimately makes it that much harder for people to get off of welfare. When government can’t solve a problem, they throw taxpayer’s money at it. Unfortunately for us it doesn’t provide solutions; it only exacerbates the problem.

The third part is deficit reduction. A constitutional amendment for a balanced budget would be a great start. If the Republicans were smart they would be bringing this up as a mandatory part of the negotiations. This is a winning issue and right now the Democrats are winning the fiscal cliff argument.

A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution will make future battles over fiscal policy much more transparent and opaque. The Democrats will not be able to move the goal posts like they do now and Republicans will be able to restore some resemblance of fiscal sanity. In addition, Republicans ought to be exposing all the horrible taxes that are just around the corner from the health care bill. If the Republican Party uses what little left they have in political capitol correctly than they can bypass the media and get the public on their side. A minority in Congress and a majority in America can create a majority in Congress.

Rather than raising taxes on job creators Republicans would be better off just letting the Democrats drive us over the fiscal cliff. By allowing this to happen maybe the American people will finally wake up and realize that liberal policies do not work. Republicans could than be in a stronger position to win in 2014 and beyond. The Republican Party and more importantly the country would benefit in the long run.

Republicans need to stand firm and call the Democrat’s bluff on the fiscal cliff. The Democrats will not allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. They know that if that happened the economy would go into an immediate recession. For political reasons if nothing else they won’t let that happen. However if it did happen along with spending cuts and a deficit reduction you would have the makings of a real recovery. And as the famous Meat Loaf song goes two out of three ain’t bad.
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Misinterpreting Obama’s Tax Mandate

Obama-tax-the-richI have written before regarding Obama’s legitimate claim to a mandate for raising taxes on the “rich.” He made no secret of his plan to raise taxes during the campaign and voters — who for the most part know they won’t be paying the increased taxes — thought it was a fine idea and re–elected him.

This is a bad situation nationally, but potentially a good situation locally. That’s because locally–elected Democrats appear to be falling prey to what Alan Greenspan called “irrational exuberance.” They’re interpreting Obama’s mandate for national taxes as permission to increase local taxes, too.

Four of our local Prince William County, VA Board of Supervisors have presented budget proposals for the next fiscal year. And try as I might to avoid stereotyping these worthy public servants, dang if the Democrats don’t want to raise taxes, while the Republicans want to cut taxes.

All we need to be just like Washington is Warren Buffett, plutocrat with a guilty conscience, standing in front of the government center begging someone to raise his taxes.

Here’s where local Democrats are making their big mistake. PWC doesn’t face a “fiscal cliff” or any other kind of precipitous drop–off, because county budgets must balance every year. Spendacrats nationally — both Democrats & Republicans — have fought a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Consequently we have obese government that borrows almost 50 cents of every dollar it spends.

Voters get much more government than they pay for, hence Obama’s mandate.

Local balanced budgets serve to inhibit Democrat tax increase fever; since taxpayers must pay for all the government they receive, the same year they receive it.

Local Democrats who forget this will give Republicans and conservatives an opportunity to begin our political comeback.

I outlined Republican Chairman Corey Stewart’s budget a couple of weeks ago. In a nutshell Stewart would cut the average property tax bill by $132 next year. He saves $941,000.00 by eliminating supervisor’s ability to make charitable donations to private organizations with our tax dollars.

Stewart also ends the practice of subsidizing individual supervisor’s entertainment preferences by cutting all “arts” grants. He eliminates funding for Legal Services of Northern VA, ending the odd practice of the county funding the same group that often sues it. And he cuts money for programs Richmond orders, but doesn’t see fit to fund.

Total cuts amount to $9 million.

On the other hand, Democrat John Jenkins wants to boost county spending by $19 million and increase the average property tax bill by $408 (average assessed value is $310,000, so individual mileage will vary).

Evidently Democrat Frank Principi wants to do everything Jenkins does plus more. (It’s hard to be specific, Principi does not put particulars on his website and his office refused to answer an email query.) Principi would raise property tax bills an average of $447, so he can stimulate county spending by $44 million.

Jenkins wants to continue to play Santa Claus for charities with tax money, fund “arts” groups that can’t make it on their own, serve as free entertainment director for seniors, fund all the groups that Stewart cuts and keep neighborhood libraries open six days a week, to name but a few.

But “arts” spending is naturally not what Jenkins emphasizes. Local Democrats are not into disarmament as much as national Democrats, so he concentrates on the additional tax money that will be used to hire 25 new police officers and 25 to 30 new fire and rescue employees, because who could be against paying taxes for public safety?

I like cops and have had excellent experiences with the fire department. But that doesn’t stop me from asking if these additions are needed, which is one reason I’m no longer a Democrat. From 2010 to 2011 overall crime in the county decreased 6.7 percent and violent crime decreased 20.7 percent.

Now I certainly don’t want to penalize success, and the department is doing an excellent job, so let’s look at overall calls for service, which are often a leading indicator of future crime increases.

Well, nothing there either. Since between 2010 and 2011 the call for service total was essentially unchanged. Meanwhile, population increased by about 11,000 residents. Simply matching population growth could justify the addition of almost 12 officers.

The department added two in 2011, so one could support adding an additional 10 officers at a cost of approximately $1.2 million — not 25 at a cost of $3.1 million.

The situation with fire and rescue is similar. Calls for service increased 3 percent from 2011 to 2012, as did the population. But you don’t add fire and rescue the same way you do police officers, because for every paid fireman there are two volunteers. Since total fire and rescue is three times that of the police department, it makes more sense to add seven firemen at a cost of $770,000, instead of 25 at $2.75 million. The total for both comes to about $2 million in additional spending.

Jenkins could pay for all of these new government employees without raising taxes a penny if he simply embraced some of Stewart’s cuts. But local, like national, Democrats are not in the spending cut business. So it’s no wonder Jenkins was an integral part of the board that doubled PWC spending between 2000 and 2006.

Government grows because politicians aren’t spending their own money. The money Jenkins and Principi want to spend is free, because it’s yours. The only restraint on Democrats is the fact property taxes are paid by all property owners. There are no “one percenters” to gouge and Democrats are unable to embezzle from the future by borrowing, the way they do in Washington, DC.

And that’s the difference between the Obama mandate and local reality.

Still, it’s always so amusing when a local Democrat expresses concern about a taxpayer’s pocketbook.

During a recent board discussion of legislative priorities, Principi wanted the state to extend the Earned Income Tax Credit, because he wanted to “keep more money in the pockets of our citizens.”

Evidently because if the state took the money, Principi wouldn’t be able to get at it.

FAILED: Balanced Budget Amendment Does Not Pass House Vote

Just days after the national debt hit $15 trillion, in what Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, describes as the “last line of defense against Congress’ unending desire to overspend and overtax”, the proposed balanced budget amendment failed to pass the vote in the House today.

The Conservative Congress members have spent months seeking support for the proposal, saying that this is the only way to force Congress to put this nations financial house in order. The proposed amendment to the Constitution, which would require Congress to balance the nations budget, actually won a majority of the vote, with 261 votes supporting the proposal and 165 opposing it. However, the amendment did not pass, because it fell  short of the required two-thirds majority vote, which is 284 votes.

While the vote was largely along party lines, with most Republicans voting for the proposal and most Democrats voting against it, Speaker of the House John Boehner lays the blame on Democrats in the House for the proposal not passing. There were, however, four Republicans who voted against it as well. In a statement after the failed vote, Speaker Boehner said:

“It’s unfortunate that Democrats still don’t recognize the urgency of stopping Washington’s job-crushing spending binge. A number of economists and experts support a Balanced Budget Amendment because it would help create a better environment for private-sector job growth.”

The four Republicans who voted against the proposal were:

Representative David Dreier, R-California
Representative Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin
Representative Justin Amash, R-Michigan
Representative Louie Gohmert, R-Texas

Representative Paul Ryan said he voted against the proposal because the actual draft of the amendment voted on was much different from the one Conservatives had drafted, which would have set solid spending limits, and would have required a super-majority to raise taxes. He said he believes the proposal which was actually voted on today would make it “more likely” that the way a balanced budget would be reached would be by just raising taxes, rather than actually cutting spending. “In a statement explaining why he voted against the measure, he said:

“Without a limit on government spending, I cannot support this amendment.”

There was obvious disappointment among those who voted for the proposal. Freshman Representative Steve Womack, R-Arksansas, said:

“In the 10 plus months I’ve been here, I consider this vote the most important vote I will have because it’s the vote that has the most impact on the future of my grandson. It is sad that Congress does not have the discipline to live within its means, and I strongly believe the only way to constrain an undisciplined Congress is to enshrine its obligation in the Constitution.”

Representative Candice Miller, R- Michigan, who also voted for today’s proposal, said:

“It is time for this Congress to use the tools our Founding Fathers gave us to amend the Constitution to save further generations from the shackles of unsustainable debt.”

One of the few Democrats who voted for the proposal, Representative Mike Ross, D- Arkansas, said:

“I’m very disappointed the House failed to pass this amendment, because, as a fiscal conservative, I have helped introduce a balanced budget amendment in each and every session of Congress since I first arrived. Deficit spending is nothing new, and both parties share the blame, but our deficits have become unsustainable and it’s past time to restore fiscal discipline and accountability to our government.”

Today’s proposal is a softer version of the proposal of the original, as an attempt to win more Democrat votes. While the original draft  set solid spending limits, the proposal voted on today would have required total spending for any fiscal year not exceed total receipts. It did, however, provided for some flexibility, such as in times of war. To raise the debt ceiling or a waiver of the balanced budget amendment in a given year, a three-fifths majority vote would have been required.

Critics on the Democratic side of the aisle argued that the amendment still would require cuts in Medicare and other entitlement programs if the economy puts the budget in the red.

If the proposal would have passed in today’s vote, it would not have immediately solved our nations financial problems. The bill would still face a fierce battle in the Senate, which it would likely not pass. However, in the event it had passed in both houses, it would still have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. This process would not be complete until 2015. The proposal then allowed 2 additional years for the bill to go into effect, bringing us to 2017, to allow Congress time to bring the budget into balance.

This is the first time a balanced budget amendment has been proposed since 1995, but it too failed to pass. The 1995 proposal passed in the House, but failed to pass the Senate by one single vote.