Because no one can be certain what would emerge from a Balanced Budget Amendment Convention, it is impossible to give President Trump a firm guarantee that the proposed BBA would include a line-item veto. But evidence can be produced which makes it highly likely.
22 state legislatures were represented at the 2017 Phoenix Convention of States, called for the purpose of planning for a BBA Amendment Convention. 19 delegations were jointly appointed to by both the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. Three delegations, which were not given voting rights, were appointed by only one presiding officer.
I was appointed to represent the Alaska State Senate by Senate President Pete Kelly. I was able to interact with many Commissioners in Phoenix, and my experience confirmed everything I had learned in the last five years of lobbying state legislators on the BBA. I have no doubt that the vast majority would love to give the President the line-item veto. In a heartbeat. 90% of them have governors with a LIV, and they know how effective it is at controlling spending.
In order to convince the President to help us, I think we have to show prove, by a preponderance of evidence, that any proposed Balanced Budget Amendment would include a line-item veto. Based on my experience, and that of fellow BBA advocates, this evidence can be produced. It will take time, but it can be done.
It needs to be done over the next few months, leading up to the budget battles of October, and the elections shortly thereafter.
When the elections are over, the Democrats may control the House. But even if the Republicans maintain their majority, it will almost certainly be a diminished one, with even less ability to take tough votes. At that point, President Trump will be looking at two years of gridlock leading up to his own reelection. During his entire first term, he will have only one legislative accomplishment, the tax cut. What can he credibly promise in his second? What is Trump’s second term agenda?
How about a Balanced Budget Amendment with a line-item veto. It may be possible, with Trump’s help, to pass BBA Resolutions in the six needed states in 2019. But if we come up a state or two short, the BBA and the Line Item Veto can be the issue in the 2020 election, at both the state and federal levels. Democrats opposed, and Republicans in favor.
80% of Americans, and 65% Democrats, are in favor of a BBA. If that’s the issue, Trump wins.