The cure for Washington money addiction

In Mr. Bruce Walker’s recent piece calling for a Convention of States, he clearly states that the tasks for the next president of the United States may be too big to tackle without amending the Constitution in ways the Beltway Bandits would not approve.

There are many things that plague the body politic, and in Washington, as a time-honored tradition, the elected and appointed officials would rather talk about the problems than apply any strong medicine to restore health.

Mr. Walker is on the right track in calling for an Article V Convention (AVC), which is indeed strong medicine.  However, the amendments he suggests are not the right prescription or dosage.  There is a more simple amendment that, if adopted, would reverse the course of the affliction in D.C.

To understand the pathology of the illness in Washington, we should look at the symptoms.  Mr. Walker alludes to the fact that there is a professional class of politician whose primary goal is to be re-elected.  This is called an addiction.  In Washington, power and money are interchangeable commodities, and one begets more of the other feeding the cycle of addiction.  Mr. Walker suggests term limits.  This is not a bad idea, but it will not cure the problem.  There is a simpler cure.  Cut off the flow of the addictive substance (money) to the addicts of the political class in Washington.  It is self-evident that the addicts in Washington will never cut themselves off from their drug of choice, so the States must perform an intervention by convening an AVC.

What Mr. Walker did not comment on is the fact that currently there is a push to call for an AVC with the express intention to propose an amendment to the Constitution to give to the several States the power to approve (or disapprove) an increase in the federal debt limit with the consent of a simple majority of the state legislatures.  This effort has the blessing of the Goldwater Institute and other conservative organizations like the Texas Public Policy Foundation.  If the debt limit were not raised, then the federal government would have to cut spending to match the level of revenues collected.  That is essentially how all fifty States operate, since the States have no legal authority to print money.

Specifically, the proposed amendment states the following:

An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate States.

Mr. Walker lays out the mathematical path to an AVC, and indeed he is right that we are very close to achieving the first ever Convention of States.  However, it should be kept in mind that this method of amending the Constitution has never actually been tried.  And as a result, the Beltway Bandits will spread the fear that it might become something that would end our way of life as we know it – a way of life controlled in large part by the political ruling class.  If it were widely known that the states can offer their own amendments without approval from Washington, then the way of life that lobbyists and career politicians enjoy there would change dramatically.  Any attempt to change the rules of the game to correct this problem will be met with severe opposition.  But it is clear that the rules do need to be changed, or the vitality of our nation will wither away like a junkie in a back alley.

At the rate at which we are accumulating debt, it is projected that the interest on the national debt will be the largest line item in the federal budget before the millennials reach retirement age.  With each passing day, the national debt only gets bigger, and time is not on our side.  For the first time in history, there are sixty million recipients of Social Security benefits.  The projected cost of that tops out at just shy of one trillion dollars for 2016.  This has resulted in the fact that the budget for Health and Human Services burns more money than any other branch of government.

Some politicians get it.  Recently the governor of Texas called for an AVC.  The Texas legislature will convene this coming January and will likely add another state to the growing list of calls for an AVC.  With Texas on board, there will be momentum for more calls for an AVC.  These calls for an AVC are not coming from a bunch of fringe activists.  In fact, some are quite mainstream, like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Mark Levin of talk radio.

The Beltway Bandits have spread misinformation far and wide, telling anyone who will listen that if the states call for an AVC, it would be a “runaway convention.”  What they don’t want you to know is that if an AVC offers up an amendment, it still must be ratified by three quarters of the states before it can become a lawful amendment.  But why let facts get in the way of a political agenda?  As the fear-mongering machines spin up, it is wise to remember the old adage, which asks:

“How can you tell when an addict is lying?  When his lips are moving.”

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