2016 could be a Republican landslide, thanks in large part to an issue to be dealt with in twelve State Capitols next year. It’s political gold for Republicans, and toxic for Democrats. It’s been debated for over forty years, and could emerge as the overriding theme of the next election.
It’s a balanced budget amendment (BBA), proposed directly by the States under Article V. 24 of the required 34 States have passed the necessary Resolution, six within the last year. Twelve additional States have been targeted for 2015.; thanks to the wave election on Nov. 4th, Republicans are in complete control of all of them. The National Federation of Independent Business, the Republican State Leadership Council, the Jefferson Project of the American Legislative Exchange Council, State Policy Networks in target states, the National Tax Limitation Committee, the National Taxpayers Union, the Liberty Congress, IamAmerican, the Reagan Project, and the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force have joined forces in an Article V Coalition to get at least ten more State Resolutions by early summer. Sponsors have been identified, bills drafted, legislative strategies adopted, and grass roots support mobilized.
Seven months from now, when the 34th State passes its BBA Resolution, the House Judiciary Committee will aggregate them, recommend to the House and Senate a time and place for the Amendment Convention, and a means of ratification. Ratification by State Convention would be quick and easy, and thus the obvious choice. This was the method used for the 21st Amendment. Members of the Article V Coalition are in close contact with leaders in both Houses, and are confident of a warm reception. It’s in everyone’s best interest that this go smoothly.
In summer and early fall of next year all 50 State Legislatures will meet to select and instruct delegates. Late in the year, or in early 2016 — just as the Presidential nominating contests enter high gear — the first Amendment Convention in American history will meet, elect a Chair, adopt rules, and deliberate on the language of the proposed amendment. When 26 States agree on a proposal, it will be submitted for ratification and the Convention will adjourn. Delegates to the State Ratification Conventions will be chosen on election day, 2016. The only issue in these elections will be the proposed amendment: yea or nay.
For two generations polls have shown consistently strong majorities for a BBA — 80% of Republicans and Independents, 65% of Democrats. The dysfunction in Washington, and the attendant debt, could increase public support. When the public becomes aware of the power granted to the States by Article V, support would grow further. Currently the only organized opposition to this idea is from the John Birch Society and the Eagle Forum, and their influence is declining.
The proposed amendment will have the enthusiastic support of the Republican nominee, who may well have had a hand in drafting it. It could be the centerpiece of the campaign.
Only the votes of Republican State Legislators can stop this from happening.
Oh, and by the way, what’s a Democrat to do?