If, a year from now, Congress passes a proposal to add a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, does that end the drive for an Article V BBA? A lot of people assume it would. I disagree.
Some of this thinking comes from the history of the 17th Amendment. Over a hundred years ago the States were very close to the 2/3 requirement for an Article V Convention to propose the direct election of Senators. When Congress wrote and proposed the Amendment the Convention was moot, and that was the end of that.
A BBA is a lot more complicated. There are probably dozens of provisions which might, or might not be, included within it. What goes in, and what stays out, is up to the people writing and voting on it. If it’s a Congressional BBA it will need the votes of fourteen Democratic Senators and 48 Democratic Representatives. A price will be paid for those votes.
At an Amendment Convention a proposal could pass with the support of the 26 most conservative states in the Union. No Democrat vote would be needed. It could include measures to increase revenue, such as land transfers to the states, or regulatory reform — things which could never make it into a Congressional BBA.
So let’s say we’re at 32 or 33 next summer and Congress passes a proposed BBA. Is that the end of that? Hell, no. If I’m running for the legislature of one of the remaining target states — say Wyoming — I’m going to look at the Congressional proposal very carefully. If I think it’s insufficient I’ll run on a platform of passing the 34th Resolution and having a Convention to see if it can come up with something better — say, one that included land transfers to the states.
Article V is clear. When 2/3 of the States apply, a Convention is called. Period. There’s nothing in there about avoiding a Convention if Congress proposes an Amendment on the same subject.
So there could potentially two BBA’s out for ratification — one written by Congress, one written by the Convention. People would have a choice.
I’ll admit I’m getting greedy. I’m all in on the traditional BBA — it’s desperately needed. But it’s not enough, not nearly. We need sustained 4% growth, and the old BBA won’t do it. Regulatory reform would. And we need to start to dismantle the federal behemoth. We’ve got to cut the federal government down to size if we’re going to be a free people. It’s the work of a generation, but there’s no better place to start than federal lands. Take the land away, and you’ve taken power away. Away from Washington. Back to the people.
The idea of a Supply Side BBA came up about four months ago, when we lost Wyoming. Very few people are aware of it. As people become familiar with it they will hopefully embrace it. As long as I get a hearing I’m satisfied.
Well, not really.