May 2019 Newsletter

This Month…
  • Solutions Proposed to Deal with the National Debt Crisis
  • If the Republicans Won’t Do It, Maybe Democrats Will
  • Sen. Grassley: Deficits are Not Due to Decreased Revenue
  • Mischaracterized Views of Antonin Scalia Debunked
  • A Digest of Some Especially Good Related Reads

Solutions Proposed to Deal with the National Debt Crisis –
During March TheFederalist carried a series of proposals by Benjamin Dierker, a law student at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.  Entitled “7 Ideas For Making Congress Solve The National Debt Crisis”, the piece admits that the proposals are “dead on arrival” because, lacking certain constitutional amendments, it is Congress that would have to enact them.

Among other suggestions, Mr. Dierker says “Congressional salaries should be reduced every time a budget is passed with spending exceeding revenue, a firm cap on spending should be imposed, and entitlement reform should become an urgent priority.”  He also said “Term limits should be put in place to prevent career politicians from establishing political empires.”

“We need a potent cocktail of policies to drastically shift incentives and provide institutional rules and guidelines that prevent backsliding”, says Dierker.  Read his proposals HERE.

If the Republicans Won’t Do It, Maybe Democrats Will –
Utah’s sole Democrat Congressman, Rep. Ben McAdams, has introduced HJ Res 55, a bill proposing a constitutional amendment requiring the federal government to balance its budget.  In early April the so-called Blue Dog Coalition of moderate Democrats endorsed McAdams bill.

The proposed amendment has some shortcomings, but it would prohibit the federal government from spending more than it receives in any given fiscal year, except in the cases of war or recession. The proposed amendment also generally prohibits a court from enforcing this requirement by ordering cuts to Social Security or Medicare payments. The proposed amendment also requires the President to annually submit to Congress a budget in which total outlays do not exceed total receipts.

When he introduced the bill McAdams said “With this bill, I’m saying let’s stop ignoring the issue and start talking about how to address it.”  In addition to McAdams, the legislation is cosponsored by 10 members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 27 self-described fiscally-responsible Democrats dedicated to the financial stability and national security of the country.  As “both parties punt on even trying to pass a budget blueprint, we need to consider a new structure to force fiscal discipline,” McAdams said.

“It’s clearer than ever that the only way Congress will be able to produce a balanced budget is if it is required to do so by law,” said California Democrat Rep. Lou Correa.  He also said “Washington needs to have a serious, bipartisan discussion about our nation’s fiscal state.  Republicans and Democrats need to come together now to make tough decisions, and Rep. McAdams’ Balanced Budget Amendment is a step in the right direction to putting our nation on a fiscally sustainable path.  If we don’t address these problems, every single American will face serious economic repercussions.”

“Our national debt is skyrocketing, shackling our children and grandchildren with the burden of dealing with this unsustainable situation,” says Florida Congresswoman  Stephanie Murphy, co-chair of the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition.  “A balanced budget amendment would force Congress’ hand to pass a balanced budget each and every year, and be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars.”

Numerous news outlets and web sites reported on McAdams’ proposal.  See TheBlaze report HERE…the New York Times report HERE… and The Hill report HERE.

Commenting on the McAdams bill, and similar congressional proposals, The Salt Lake Tribune editorialized “They call them balanced-budget bills, but they’re more like cries for help.”  Read that editorial HERE.

Senator Grassley:
Higher Deficits are Not Due to Decreased Revenue –
 
The Des Moines Register (Iowa) published an editorial on the federal debt and annual deficit.  During March, Chuck Grassley, Iowa’s senior Senator responded with a guest editorial, suggesting that the newspaper’s editorial “misses key context about the cause of the problem and how best to solve it”.

He continued “Let’s start with the myth that the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – which has allowed the average Iowa family of four to see their taxes cut by more than half, or about $2,100 – is somehow the cause of the ballooning federal deficit.”

Grassley noted that “The U.S. Treasury is expected to receive more tax revenue for 2018 than it did in 2017, before the tax law took effect.  And in fiscal year 2018, the Treasury took in $3.328 trillion, up from $3.316 trillion in fiscal year 2017.  Those are just the facts.”

Put another way,” he said, “if more money is being taken in by the federal government after it cut taxes yet deficit spending is higher, that must mean the difference is because of increased spending, not decreased revenue.”

“And that’s why I’ve long-supported a federal balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution that would control federal spending and impose fiscal discipline in Washington.”  Read Senator Grassley’s guest editorial HERE.

Mischaracterized Views of Antonin Scalia Debunked –
The views of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia have been repeatedly distorted by anti-Article V campaigners.  Over the past few weeks two sources have attempted to set the record straight.

The National Sentinel published Wise beyond his years: A youthful Antonin Scalia warned us 40 years ago about what’s happening in America TODAY by Jon Dougherty.

Dougherty points out that during a forum when Scalia was a law professor at the University of Chicago in 1979 “Scalia provided one of the best summations available of the second way under the Constitution, that our founding document can be amended, the genius of it, and why the founders adopted it”.

“(I)t’s this second method that Scalia masterfully addresses and explains — and in doing so, points out why it is a method that would come in handy today since Congress seems incapable of addressing some of our most pressing issues,” Dougherty says.

The future justice said that “a widespread and deep feeling of powerlessness in the country is apparent with respect to many issues, not just the budget issue. The people do not feel that their wishes are observed. They are heard but they are not heeded, particularly at the federal level.

“The basic problem is simply that the Congress has become professionalized,” Scalia said. “Its members have a greater interest than ever before in remaining in office; and it is served by a bureaucracy and is much more subject to the power of individualized pressure groups than to the unorganized feelings of the majority of the citizens.”

Contrary to the Scalia comment taken out of context by Article V opponents, he said “One remedy for that, the one specifically provided for in the Constitution, is this amendment process which bypasses the Congress.  I would like to see that amendment process used — just having it used once will exert an enormous influence on both the Congress and the Supreme Court.” (emphasis added)

One such amendment that was popular back then was constitutionally requiring Congress to pass a balanced budget.  During that 1979 forum Scalia said it was “something members of Congress would never consider because, well, they like spending your money. Article V provides a way for Americans to have their voices heard.”  Read Dougherty’s article HERE.

Then watch rare video footage of that 1979 forum as provided by the Convention of States Project HERE.

A Digest of Some Especially Good Related Reads –
Restoring America’s Soul is a new book by Rita Dunaway, legal consultant for the Convention of States Project.  The book “defines conservatism as a philosophy that conserves the things we want to keep, then details what values and principles we must keep, and explains how Americans can conserve them,” opined former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint.

He also said “Everyone who calls themselves a ‘conservative’ must read this book. I haven’t read a simpler, clearer description of conservatism or a better indictment of the forces that are trying to destroy the ideas that make America great.”  Find it HERE.

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During April the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) published Has Federalism Become Like Sandcastles on the Beach…?  a good article by Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory.  In the article Ivory talks about the principles of federalism, saying like sandcastles… those principles get eroded and washed away by the tides of federal encroachment.

He says “The crucial divisions of governing responsibility that characterize our unique American system of federalism will continue to erode, unless we begin erecting seawalls to guard our unique State sandcastles from a persistent federal tide.”  Read the article HERE.

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The Epoch Times recently published a commentary by Gary L. Gregg entitled Continuing Lessons from Washington’s ‘Farewell Address’.  Gregg says “Washington’s Farewell Address has as much to say to America today as it did to the America he left when he retired.” 

Gregg tracks a few lessons from Washington’s address that still speak to 2019 America.  Read his thoughtful piece HERE.

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Also in The Epoch Times, during April, constitutional scholar Rob Natelson wrote a commentary entitled What’s Good About the US Constitution?  He enumerates the governing rules the US Constitution set down, and how they have held America together.

Natelson also notes that when constitutional “rules” are broken, the nation suffers.  Read his piece HERE.

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On March 28 The Washington Times carried a commentary by former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker entitled Our Kids are Counting on Us.  Pleading for support of a Balanced Budget amendment to the US Constitution, Walker says $67,000 “is the share of the federal debt inherited by every child born today in America”.

He says “When I was born in 1967, my share of the national debt was $1,640.  Back then, the national debt was $326 million.  That was about 38 percent of the national economy (as measured by Gross Domestic Product).”  Today’s $22 trillion national debt is “up to 106 percent of the nation’s economy” he says.

In the article Walker said “Our nation cannot survive with the rate of deficit spending. Now is the time for leaders to step forward and fix this problem — while we still can — because our kids and their kids are counting on us.”  Read his thoughtful piece HERE.

On April 4 Lew Uhler (chairman of the National Tax Limitation Committee) and widely published author Peter J. Ferrara responded to Walker’s piece in a related Washington Times commentary under the title Is there a right size of government?  Read their views HERE.

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On April 22 the Washington Examiner carried an opinion piece entitled Resurrect Fiscal Sanity by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee regarding Scott Walker’s new position as the national face of the state-led movement to propose a balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the Constitution… as national honorary chairman of the Center for State-led National Debt Solutions.

Huckabee included the following quote from former President Ronald Reagan: “We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.”

In 1982 the US Senate passed a resolution to propose a federal BBA, but the measure failed in the House.  Huckabee points out that when Reagan made the above statement “The $1 trillion in federal debt that prompted the Senate to take action in 1982 is roughly equivalent to the amount Congress now borrows every year to fund its deficits.”  Read Huckabee’s excellent piece HERE.

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Constitutional/American government blogger Rodney Dodsworth has published a brief new piece entitled Our Unbalanced Constitution and Article V.  Dodsworth argues that John Adams believed that “History had taught that public virtue is the necessary foundation of republics.”

Dodsworth says “The difference between then (1787) and now is that once men like Adams realized the situation (that contemporary leaders were not always virtuous), they advocated and took measures to deal with man’s nature.  Article V opponents’ reliance on public virtue is a blind alley”.  Read his observations HERE.

On April 22 Dodsworth released another thoughtful blog entitled Machiavelli – Dealing with the Deep State Aristocracy.  In this review of Machiavellian governance philosophy, Dodsworth concludes that President Trump’s best efforts to save the American Republic “from the sword of the Deep State Aristocracy” are limited. “But, through his support of an Article V convention of states, he could lead our nation around a hopelessly corrupt Congress and federal court system.”  Mr. Dodsworth suggests “An end run, a flanking movement against criminal American aristocrats, the Deep State and its supporters, is the way to drain the swamp and possibly save the American Republic.”   Read this piece HERE.

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On April 16 the Virginia Gazette carried an essay by Bruce Schoch entitled The States and Constitutional Change.  The writer discusses the options state have when they do not wish to follow federal policy.

Schoch discuses two general approaches Americans can use to deal with problematic constitutional issues.  The second, what he calls the “Decentralized Approach”, would require use of powers granted in Article V of the Constitution.  Read his thoughts HERE.

Who said it?

With every hour that passes,
we pile up another $100 million of debt.
To pay off that $22 trillion in one lump sum,
every taxpayer would have to cough up more than $181,000.
Texas Congressman Chip Roy
(a member of the House Budget Committee and the Oversight and Reform Committee)
in The Hill, on April 17, 2019

 

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