By: Steve Dillon

The growing national debt, precipitated by decades of deficit spending by Congress, is the primary reasoning for a Constitutional Amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.

If a poll were conducted on this simple concept one could easily predict landslide favoritism for such passage. However, if each voting American were to grasp the ramifications of, "where the buck stops," then such a poll might yield very unfavorable results.

Congress has three basic choices at its disposal regarding spending:

  • 1) they can cut it;
  • 2) they can raise tax revenues to pay for it, or;
  • 3) they can pass the issue off to the localized governments to deal with.

  • A fourth choice is to spend money not budgeted and add it on to the national debt. This idea of political procrastination has led to our current debt of over 10.5 trillion dollars and current budgets which include interest payments of nearly 2/3 of the total annual government expenditure.

    Many states have balanced budget amendments, but they each have four choices because they can always lobby Congress for more money. A federal balanced budget amendment would make it far more difficult for states to pass the buck, up to Washington. Increased responsibility by localized government for their own needs will, I believe, be a major stumbling block to any national initiative. For this reason, that is exactly where we need to begin!

    Localized citizen governments are responsible for spending local taxation dollars, within budgetary limits, as well as effectively managing allocation of statehouse and congressional contributions.

    We must take the realistic message and mission of a federal balanced budget amendment to every mayor¡¯s office, village and city council chamber, township trustee¡¯s hall, public school board, and county commissioner¡¯s office in each state that has not passed a resolution for passage. Every level of local government affiliates with a statewide association of some type. Such associations must be brought on board with our mission as they are the vehicle best equipped to deliver our message.

    Many representatives in Congress favor a balanced budget amendment. They would each like to be able to refer to their own obedience of the Constitution as the reason for not being able to fund a solution to every problem. Our forefathers may not have directly anticipated the need for such a rule of discipline but they certainly did not preclude it. The amendment process was their gift to us, allowing the Constitution to be a fluid document.

    Our society is made up of citizens with certain expectations of government as the cure-all whenever any level of crisis develops. We need only look at the criticism leveled at government in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the mid-western ice storms to get a glimpse at this. President Kennedy¡¯s inaugural address, wherein he challenged Americans to, ¡°ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country,¡± falls on deaf ears in these times. Yet such a self-sacrificing attitude is mandated, are we the people to emerge from reckless government, unscathed.

    You may contact Mr Dillon by email. He's located in Upper Sandusky, OH. You may download a printable hard copy of this essay.

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    By: Mark Guyer, Voters For Balanced Budgets

    The national debt is astonishingly large and growing rapidly. That is clear, but what is the solution? Going deeper and deeper into debt can be stopped only by a balanced budget constitutional amendment. Everything else has been tried, and failed. It is time for effective action.

    A national convention could propose a federal balanced budget constitutional amendment. This method of proposing amendments was written into the U.S. Constitution by the founding fathers. They intended for this option (in Article V) to be used when necessary. To date, 28 of the required 34 states have called for a convention. Once proposed, the balanced budget amendment then must be ratified by three-fourths of the states to take effect. Americans believe in limited government. This amendment puts a sensible limit on government power. Polls have shown that two out of three voters support a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

    Is it safe to hold a constitutional convention? Yes.

  • First, mature, predictable, elected leaders will be in charge.
  • Second, states are calling for the convention solely to deal with the debt issue. That is obvious.
  • Third, the convention cannot change the constitution. It can only propose amendment language.
  • Fourth, a proposed amendment has to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. This rigorous procedure is a solid safeguard.
  • Fifth, which Congressmen or which state legislators want to scrap the U.S. Constitution? None.
  • Sixth, Congress can propose an amendment at any time. That has never caused concern.
  • Seventh, states have adopted balanced budget amendments. Experience has proven that amending is a safe process. The constitution was designed to be amended. As you would expect, the proposals for this 28th amendment have flexibility in war or economic trouble. For many years balanced budget requirements in state constitutions have been effective.
  • Only a constitutional amendment will work. What other realistic solution to the debt problem exists? There is a long history of unsuccessful attempts in Washington to balance budgets. Unprecedented mountains of debt are an irresponsible government created burden on citizens now, and on the next generation. A chronic fundamental problem requires fundamental change. The need is serious. This important amendment is crucial for the financial security of each of us, and for America's future.

    States that have not yet called for a constitutional convention to propose a federal balanced budget amendment: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    Is your state listed? If so, write your state legislators to ask them to support a convention that would propose a federal balanced budget amendment.

    U.S. Constitution, Article V: "The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States...."

    More FAQs and Answers on a Balanced Budget Amendment.

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