A guest post from Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey, who is emerging as a leader in the Article V movement.
|P.S. – In my guest column in The Commercial Appeal, I explained why the planning convention is necessary:
Tennessee Planning Convention will Help Balance Federal Budget
History will be made in Nashville this summer. The Tennessee Senate recently voted to hold the first convention of states in America since 1861. The purpose of this convention will be to plan the rules, date, and location for a future Article V convention of states calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The United States is $20 trillion in debt. If you stacked 20 trillion dollar bills one on top of the other, the height would reach to the moon and back over five times. This huge debt is a financial crisis waiting to happen. The federal government is burdening our children and grandchildren with massive loan payments in order to cover its current wasteful spending.
The debt is also a national security crisis. For the first 150 years of our nation’s history, the national debt was largely owed by Americans to other Americans who had bought savings bonds. Today, trillions of dollars are owed to foreign countries like Japan and China. This puts the United States at the mercy of others who can demand repayment on their own terms.
I recently attended a community meeting hosted by Congressman David Kustoff. Three of the thirty people at the meeting asked the same question: “What can Americans do to reign in the national debt?”
The answer is found in Article V of the U.S. Constitution. A convention of states may propose a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, requiring Congress to balance the federal budget each year.
This solution may not eliminate the $20 trillion debt, but it will certainly stop the growth of deficit spending each year. If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. There are times when deficit spending is necessary, such as in a time of war, but the balanced budget amendment as drafted by a convention of states could allow for deficit spending during a national emergency.
In 2014, Tennessee passed a resolution calling for just such a convention of states. In fact, when the Tennessee Senate passed my resolution, it became the first chamber in America to pass a balanced budget amendment resolution unanimously. Currently, 29 states have passed the same resolution, and hopefully five more will do so this year. Once these 34 states have passed the resolution, a convention of states must be held.
In anticipation, the Tennessee state Senate recently passed my resolution calling for the planning convention in Nashville this summer. While one Senator did raise the issue of a runaway convention, there are four safeguards preventing this from happening. Those safeguards led to an overwhelming, bipartisan 27-3 vote calling for the planning convention.
First, conventions of states are legally bound by the wording of the resolutions that call for them to be held. Second, it is a felony in Tennessee for a delegate to a convention of states even to discuss a topic outside the reason for the convention. Third, any amendment proposed for adoption by a convention of the states would need to pass 38 states before it could be added to the U.S. Constitution. Fourth, the whole point of hosting a planning convention in Nashville this summer is to prove that a convention of states will stick to only one topic.
America faces a crisis, and Congress refuses to act. The time has come for states to fix this problem.