August 2020 Newsletter

by | Aug 3, 2020 | AVC Newsletter

This Month…

  • ALEC Workshop Weighed ‘Four Paths to a BBA’
  • BREAKING NEWS:  America is Suffering ‘Debt Fatigue’
  • This Year’s Federal Deficit Projected to Hit $3.7 Trillion
  • Scott Walker Offers a Way to Fix the US Debt Crisis
  • NBA Player Wants to Highlight the National Debt
  • Can California Save America from Itself?
  • New Group Seeks to Address Distrust of Government
  • Activists Continue to Fight for the 1972-Proposed ERA
  • Right to Vote Amendment Proposed

Special Notice from the Editor

In the months ahead, the State Legislators’ Article V Caucus (publisher of this newsletter) plans to ramp up its educational offerings for state legislators.  For that reason the Caucus is looking for a few more former and current state legislators (regardless of party affiliation) to join to its leadership ranks.

Join the Caucus leadership and help to get the principles of federalism reinstituted in America’s governing bodies.  For more information, contact former Colorado Senator Kevin Lundberg at:

ALEC Workshop Weighed ‘Four Paths to a BBA’ – 
A Zoom conference workshop was held during the July ALEC convention that was entitled Four Paths to a State-Drafted Voter-Ratified US Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA).  The workshop featured former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Ohio Senate Majority Leader Matt Huffman and David Biddulph of the citizen’s group known as Let Us Vote for a BBA.

As an introduction to the workshop Walker said: “What we see is the politicians in Washington are incapable of getting a balanced budget amendment, or even a balanced budget.”  A 56 minute video of the workshop can be viewed HERE.

BREAKING NEWS (?):  America is Suffering ‘Debt Fatigue’ –
A July 16 article in The Hill by economists Barry Poulson and John Merrifield is headed Debt Fatigue, Not Coronavirus is Destroying America.

They say “Over the past half century … governments at all levels have experienced debt fatigue.”  Comparing today to the later part of World War II (the only two times national debt has exceeded national income) they note that “[t]he federal government has again increased debt to levels exceeding our national income.”  They also stress that state and local governments have also allowed their debt levels to increase.

They (and many Americans) ask, “If we can’t rely on elected officials to pursue responsible fiscal policies, how can we solve this debt crisis?”  The writers point out that “[c]ountries that have been successful in solving their debt debacles, like Switzerland, have done so by imposing ‘debt brake’ rules.  When debt levels exceed a debt tolerance level, the debt brake rules mandate a reduction in the rate of growth in government spending until debt is reduced below that debt tolerance level.  In the United States, a debt brake would mandate that the federal government reduce the rate of growth in spending until debt is reduced to less than half of national income.”

Poulson and Merrifield submit “The experience in Europe suggests that to be effective in the long run, debt brakes should be incorporated as constitutional rules.”  Acknowledging a low probability that Congress will take the lead on such an effort, they say, “If Congress fails to propose such an amendment, citizens could enact the amendment through an Article V Amendment Convention.”  Read their op-ed piece HERE.

2020 Federal Deficit Spending Projected to Hit $3.7 Trillion –
The July 15 edition of The Patriot Post reported that figures released that week by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicate that “[t]he annual deficit over the last 12 months is $3 trillion, and the CBO expects the fiscal year ending September 30 will sport a deficit of $3.7 trillion — smashing the previous record of $1.4 trillion and nearly equaling the entire federal budget as recently as 2017.”  The CBO projection was based on law as it existed in early July 2020, before any new debt-building “stimulus” measures that Congress was scheduled to consider in late July.

Scott Walker Offers a Way to Fix the US Debt Crisis –
The July 9 edition of The Washington Times carried an op-ed piece by former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker entitled How to fix the US debt crisis.  No surprise, Walker called for a Balanced Budget constitutional amendment to stop the Debt Clock from ticking.

Walker, the National Spokesperson for the Center for State-led National Debt Solutions, noted that “[i]nterest payments are now more than the entire national debt was at the start of the Reagan presidency.  That means less and less money for children, health care, defense and other priorities of the federal government.”

Pointing out that America’s fast-growing federal debt is a bipartisan issue Walker said, “The federal government needs an intervention.  We need a Balanced Budget Amendment — before it’s too late.” 

He urged state legislators to take the lead, through an Article V convention of states “[t]o ensure the financial future of our children and their children.  We must get the debt and deficit crisis under control in America.”  Read his article HERE.

NBA Player Wants to Highlight the National Debt –
During July the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) released a report about NBA player Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets.  Apparently Dinwiddie is one of the few young professional athletes who is tuned in to, and concerned about, his nation’s massive debt load.

The report says that the NBA is considering allowing players to use personalized statements on jerseys to promote social justice causes.  If such “statements” are allowed, it is expected that many players will opt for such things as “Black Lives Matter,”“I Can’t Breathe,” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”  Not Dinwiddie, whose number is 26.

“If you’re wondering what I’m gonna put on the back of my jersey it’ll be ‘Trillion’,” Dinwiddie is reported to have said.  “A lot of issues at the moment.  I think the fact that the country is 26 (ironically) Trillion dollars in debt is high on the list.”  FEE reported that America’s current national debt is $26.3 trillion.

The FEE article goes on to emphasize that it is young Americans, like Dinwiddie, who should be especially concerned about the surging federal debt.  Read the story HERE.

Can California Save America from Itself? –
Writer Joe Mathews has written an op-ed published by California-based GVWire on July 2 under the heading Can California Save America From Itself?, and by the San Francisco Examiner on July 5 under the heading Before Calexit, a final push to fix America.

Mathews alleges that the on-going conflicts between California and the federal government are reasons for the Pacific Coast state to propose an entirely new constitution for the US, one that could be used by a new “nation-state” of California if it proves necessary for that state to withdraw from the Union.

He asserts that “California is a modern democracy with a powerful initiative process that allows its highly diverse population to amend its constitution directly. The US, in contrast, is a majority-white country that clings to a 1789 constitution that permitted slavery, is nearly impossible to amend and prohibits election of the president by popular vote.”

He concludes that “[a] new constitution could provide for truly national elections, national referenda for major decisions (like going to war), and proportional representation to end our polarizing, winner-take-all political culture.”

Mathews suggests that “[o]nce that document is drafted, California voters would decide whether to approve it.  Once approved, the proposed constitution would be sent to the other 49 states, asking them to adopt it.  The other states could accept our constitutional proposal, or amend it, or call a constitutional convention, under Article V of the current constitution.”  He says, “California would have given its country a new lease on life; the US could stop measuring policies against centuries-old precedents, and start planning for the future.  If other states rejected the document, California could choose: stay within the US or attempt to negotiate a peaceful exit.”

“In this scenario,” says Mathews, “California could walk away in good conscience, having done everything it could to save America from itself.”  Read the piece HERE.

New Group Seeks to Address Distrust of Government –
FixUS is a newly organized affiliate of FIX the Debt.  The new group was launched in January 2020 and is currently establishing chapters throughout the country.  FixUS was formed “on the premise that our nation’s growing divisions, paralyzed political system, and associated growing distrust between the public and governing institutions, are of paramount concern.”

The group says it “seeks to better understand the root causes of our nation’s growing divisions and deteriorating political system, work with others to bring attention to these issues and the need to fix them, and build support for necessary changes.”

Their mid-year report says, “FixUS began building a community that is united in shared concern about the state of our country, and is undertaking projects and partnerships that seek to better understand the roots of these problems, bring attention to these issues, engage and connect networks of citizens and experts to identify solutions, and help support a growing movement of individuals and organizations committed to improving our democracy.”

Activists Continue to Fight for the 1972-Proposed ERA – 
The proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) continues to be in the news.  The July 4 edition of The Sumpter Item (South Carolina) reported that a South Carolina organization, represented by Southern Legal Counsel, has filed an amicus brief with two other states in support of a lawsuit demanding the federal government add the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the US Constitution.

The July 10 edition of The Daily Record (Maryland) reported that “New York Attorney General Letitia James is leading a coalition of 19 attorneys general and one governor in a fight to recognize the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th amendment to the US Constitution.”  It points out that the US House of Representatives voted 232-182 to pass HJ Res 79, the joint resolution that seeks to remove the original time limit assigned to the 1972 ERA proposal.

According to the June 30 edition of The National Law Journal a large number of female attorneys from large law firms are backing the effort to get the ERA recognized.

The issues continue to revolve around the ratification deadlines imposed by Congress when the ERA was formally proposed in 1972, and ratification rescissions that have occurred since that time.  Even Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said that if ERA supporters really want to enact an ERA, they need to start over again.

Right to Vote Amendment Proposed –
Believe it or not, nowhere in the US Constitution is the right to vote explicitly guaranteed to American citizens.  Many other “rights” are specifically enumerated in that governing document, but not one guaranteeing a right to vote.

At the time the US Constitution was drafted there were only 3.9 million people in the United States.  Of those, only about 4% to 6% percent had full voting rights when the Constitution was ratified.

The constitution mentions Congress’ voting rights a dozen times, and addresses voting by/for Presidential Electors two dozen times.  The right of citizens to vote is assumed in Amendments 14, 15, 19, 24 and 26, but the actual right is nowhere enumerated.  There is no blanket constitutional right to vote, the way that, for example, the First Amendment gives all Americans the rights of freedom of speech and the rights of freedom of religion.

Congressman Jim Cooper (D-Tenn) hopes to correct that.  On June 25 Cooper introduced HJRes91.  His proposed amendment would set 18 as the nationwide minimum age to vote.  It would also ban voting by noncitizens and those currently incarcerated for a felony.  Read the proposed resolution HERE.

A bit of History to Remember…

In his first annual message in December 1829, President Jackson (a Democrat) promoted the benefits of paying off the federal debt.  He said the people would be “relieved from a considerable portion of its present burdens” and be able to “display individual enterprise.”  He also mentioned that the states’ financial power would improve which would allow them to fund education and public projects.  With its debt paid, the federal government would still be able to “promote the general weal in all modes permitted to its authority.”

After having peaked at $127 million following the War of 1812, the national debt stood at $58.4 million when Andrew Jackson became president.  Jackson was determined to pay off the debt in full by 1833.  With a combination of personal motivation, political desire, and financial discipline… the national debt was actually extinguished (zero) in 1835.

Jackson’s former Attorney General, Roger Taney, believed it was the only time a major nation succeeded in paying off its debt.  It is still true today.  Read more about President Jackson and his efforts to eliminate national debt HERE.