Q.: I agree that the national debt is a problem, but do we really need a constitutional amendment to handle it?
A.: Nothing less than an amendment is sufficient to stop more mountains of debt from piling up. Congress has not done so. Presidents have not done so. Officials in Washington do not have the answer, and they do not care that they do not have the answer. The problem has been called, "deficit attention disorder" by Thomas Hazlett. The federal debt is now increasing by over a billion dollars every day. Sounds like a problem to me.
What would end deficits? Everything considered, there is just one way. A mandatory permanent change in how government spends your money is required. The strongest most basic change is a constitutional amendment. Even Congress can't sneak around that. I have worked for a Congressman. If Congressmen and bureaucrats don't have to balance the budget, they never will.
Debt makes people poorer. The national debt makes Americans poorer. The national debt is your debt.
Q.: Would an amending convention go off track, and get into other areas of the constitution than the budget?
A.: A few people have a paranoid fear of a balanced budget convention. They peer off into the misty night and see hobgoblins in the shadows conjuring up conspiracies... all the while a very real, very tangible problem, the enormous national debt, is invisible. On any day or misty night, Congress can propose any change they like to the constitution. Congress could, at this very hour, propose to abolish private property, make their terms 40 years long, and eliminate the Supreme Court, for starters. Have you ever lost a moment's sleep worrying about the fact that Congress has the power to propose constitutional amendments? Sorry, forget that I even mentioned it.
Congress has had the power of a constitutional convention for over 200 years. So it's a bit late to worry about a political body existing that can propose amendments. By the way, notice that a convention, and also Congress, can only propose amendments. Thirty-eight states must pass a proposed constitutional amendment before it becomes law. My friend, only an obviously good and necessary amendment has any chance at all of passing a test like that.
Everyone who is aware of the balanced budget convention idea understands full well that the convention is being called for one reason. Come on, let's be honest. We all know what this amending convention is about. There have been hundreds of very diverse requests by states for a constitutional convention. A convention has not been held because there must be 34 requests on the same one subject. States do not pass legislation and say, we want a convention, but who knows what for?
Can elected state legislators be trusted? States have adopted balanced budget amendments, and many other amendments. Which states have ruined their constitutions in the process? Zero. The folks who criticize an amending convention apparently don't trust anyone. Let's have the names of some state legislators who want to destroy the constitution. There are thousands of state legislators. Why is it that you have never heard of one legislator, who has said or done anything, that even hints he wants to toss away our constitution? It's because none of them want to do that.
Q.: Some people say a constitutional convention is a con job, what about that?
A.: These are folks who claim to love the constitution and revere the founding fathers. Yet these same folks want to rip out an important part of the constitution. They use dismissive terms for a constitutional convention and say it's dangerous for state leaders elected by the people to gather and talk. Who do these anti-convention folks suppose wrote the Article V. provision for a constitutional convention into the constitution? The founding fathers did. The founding fathers wisely wanted checks and balances on Congress, so that we the people through our elected state leaders could amend the constitution if Congress did not face up to its plain responsibility. That is precisely the situation we face today with outrageous deficits.
The founding fathers would have been shocked at today's financial irresponsibility. How do we know? They never ran up this kind of debt, it was out of the question. In choosing between the founding fathers and today's critics of the amending convention provision, I stand with the founding fathers. How about you?
Q.: Are the government's finances so bad that we need to make any changes?
A.: There are people who think the federal debt is no big deal. It is very literally a big deal. One day there will be an economic shock, such as when investors acknowledge the reality that the federal government cannot pay its bills, without going even further into debt. Then there will be a crisis of confidence. This has happened in other countries. Investors won't loan the government more money. The federal government will be unable to pay its bills. It will be bankrupt. Citizens will scream: "Why didn't somebody see this coming?" "Why didn't somebody do something?" The time to do something is now.
A lot of persons think the national debt doesn't affect them. Guess who pays the interest on the debt? The name is on your tax return. The bill for taxpayers last year was $322 billion. A billion dollars is 1,000 million dollars. We're talking real money here. You have less money today because of this expense. All of us do. The government once borrowed money to pay for something long forgotten, and now you shall pay interest on that forever. Not a very good deal is it?
Want to see the national debt? Look in your wallet. What is not there, that should be there, is what the debt looks like. Debt costs you a lot of money.
Americans in earlier times were financially poor in comparison to us. Yet they never ran up astronomical debts with the intention of dumping them on future generations (you). Americans today clearly do not have the same high standards.
Do we want to be a nation of dead beats who don't pay their bills? Do we want to manage this nation's finances like a third world banana republic? And where will that lead? Do we want to experience the modern equivalent of the Depression of the 1930s? Are the days of America's greatness really over? Not yet, hopefully.
(This page provided by Mark Guyer of Voters For Balanced Budgets)
National Debt Awareness Campaign: http://www.federalbudget.com