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Apr 16

Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-WI) and Republicans: Massively Cut Federal Spending and Reduce Taxes and Tax Rates

Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-WI), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, has proposed massive, desperately need federal government spending cuts as well as tax rate reductions in his “Road to Prosperity”. Troves of empirical data support this approach – benefiting all except the demagogic Liberal politicians.

The vast majority of the Democrats still irrationally support continued unrestrained federal spending and high and increasing taxes, tax rates and fees. They never can have enough of other people’s money to spend. A larger, more controlling and intrusive government that knows best is their ideology. Control the masses, engender their dependency and buy votes by wealth transfer from those who work, particularly the higher wage earners.

Cal Vs. Krug
Investor’s Business Daily 04/11/2011


Taxes And Spending: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's bold entitlement reform plan goes beyond taming spending. It recognizes that the history of cutting taxes vindicates Calvin Coolidge, not Paul Krugman.

Rep. Ryan has emerged as someone the country has been waiting for: a fearless, energetic politician with the guts to propose a detailed reform of the out-of-control, until-now-untouchable federal mandatory spending programs. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, with their annual automatic spending increases, now make up roughly 60% of outlays.

Some might find irony in Ryan ending up as spending hawk-in-chief, since back in the 1990s he was an aide to supply-side icons like Jack Kemp and Bob Kasten. Both were accused of caring too little about spending cuts as they fought for tax cuts to grow the economy and create millions of private jobs.

Today, after years of unchecked Democratic control of Congress and the White House, the problem of untamed government spending has become a runaway locomotive hurtling us toward a fiscal cliff.

The American public has reacted, spawning the populist Tea Party movement. And in this new environment, tax-cutting politicians are also spending-cutters.

But Ryan still recognizes, as did Kemp and Kasten, that low tax rates are key to restoring the greatness and vibrancy of the U.S. economy.

So when the New York Times' spending-addict columnist Paul Krugman launched his error-riddled attack on Ryan's plan last week, his first volley targeted not spending but Ryan's tax cuts. Ryan would bring both the individual top tax rate and the soon-to-be-highest-in-the-world U.S. corporate tax rate down to 25%.

According to Krugman, "Republicans have once again gone all in for voodoo economics — the claim, refuted by experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves" because they "would set off a gigantic boom."

It's so many years after Ronald Reagan's tax cuts produced the longest peacetime economic expansion in history — extending past the brief George H.W. Bush recession to the Internet revolution of the 1990s. One might have hoped that the losers of the tax-cut debate would, by now, have gone the way of the Berlin Wall.

But then, had history been heeded, the Krugmans actually would have been laughed off the political stage long before Reagan. John F. Kennedy knew when he bucked fiscal liberals in his party and pushed hard for cutting tax rates — including those on high incomes — that President Calvin Coolidge had proved tax cuts do exactly what Krugman says they don't: produce new jobs and fill government coffers with new revenues.

As Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, pointed out in a paper for the Cato Institute, "detailed Internal Revenue Service data show that the across-the-board rate cuts of the early 1920s — including large cuts at the top end — resulted in greater tax payments and a larger tax share paid by those with high incomes."

De Rugy found that as "the marginal tax rate on those high-income earners was cut sharply from 60% or more (to a maximum of 73%) to just 25%, taxes paid by that group soared from roughly $300 million to $700 million per year." From 1922 to 1929, real GNP grew 4.7% a year and unemployment fell from 6.7% to 3.2%.

What Krugman mocks as "trickle-down" was actually a tsunami of prosperity that expanded by 84% those making between $10,000 and $100,000 annually.

Taxes and spending can't be divorced. The Krugman way of big spending and high tax rates condemns future generations to never-ending government dependency.

Ryan's way not only reforms and saves entitlements. It saves us from the left's goal of a Europeanized American economy.

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/568766/201104111904/Cal-Vs-Krug.htm

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Apr 4

Congressional Republicans Are Seeking A Balanced Budget Amendment

Congressional Republicans are continuing a welcomed pattern of pursuing fiscal responsibility by the federal government – just what the voters charged them to do. Their political counterparts and their ideological antithesis, the Democrats, instead are plotting to sabotage talks on federal spending and speciously blame and attack the Republicans. Their philosophy is that there can really never be too much spending.

Prudently, the Republicans are resurrecting the idea of a balanced budget amendment in order to force restraint in spending and taxation. They are conflating ideas from the past with new ones to create a Constitutional Amendment that will facilitate this.

In the end, they will irrefutably show that they are the party of fiscal responsibility and restraint so that the taxpayers can keep more of what they earn and all of us can enjoy a higher standard of living.

Budget Balance By Law
Investor’s Business Daily   03/28/2011

Fiscal Policy: The balanced budget amendment idea has lain dormant for years. But Republicans are bringing it back. In a day when runaway spending is running away faster than ever, we need a mechanism to rein it in.

GOP leaders expect in the next two weeks to introduce to the public a balanced budget amendment that they believe will fix the profound debt and deficit problems that lawmakers have created for the taxpayers. Done correctly, a balanced budget amendment might do just that.

Congressional Republicans had planned to announce their intention to amend the Constitution in the middle of the month, but decided to wait for a few weeks until they could come up with a bill they could all support.

Once lawmakers have agreed to a piece of legislation, the GOP will go public with it — and the promise is the process will be highly transparent.

In other words, Congress won't have to pass the amendment before everyone finds out what's in it.

"We will have a genuine rollout," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, guaranteed Human Events, "so the American people can know what we're doing and they can call, and email, and fax, and demand their senators and congressmen support it and create a true grass-roots effort."

While there are competing versions of the balanced budget amendment among Republican lawmakers, Human Events reported last week that the likely final version of the amendment will:

• Cap spending at 18% of GDP. Under President Obama, spending has soared to 23.8% (fiscal 2010) and 24.7% (current fiscal year) of GDP.

• Allow federal spending to exceed federal revenue only when two-thirds of both chambers approve a specific dollar amount beyond government income.

• Prohibit tax hikes to balance the budget unless two-thirds in both chambers vote to override the limitation. The significance of this can't be overstated. Any amendment that enforces a balanced budget without such a restraint would only make matters worse. A large number of Democrats and a few soft Republicans would be giddy at the prospect of endlessly raising taxes.

• Require increases in the debt limit to be approved by three-fifths of both chambers.

• Force the president to submit a balanced budget each year to Congress.

In return for allowing the debt ceiling to exceed its current $14.2 trillion threshold, the GOP is demanding that Congress vote on a balanced budget amendment.

Should Republicans get their vote, and two-thirds of each chamber approve the amendment, it will go to the state legislatures. It must then be ratified in three-fourths of the states to be added to the Constitution.

To get it through the House, Republicans will need help from Democrats. Their 49-seat majority does not reach the two-thirds level required to approve an amendment. But a balanced budget amendment bill introduced this year by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has 215 co-sponsors, with 13 Democrats among them.

The GOP will also need help from Democrats, who have 51 of the 100 seats, to move it through the Senate. With votes from all 47 Republicans, the amendment will have to attract support from 20 Democrats.

While the numbers would indicate that passage in the Senate is unlikely, the prospect isn't entirely hopeless. Human Events notes that there are four Democrats who voted for the balanced budget amendment in 1997 who still serve in the Senate.

Democratic Sens. Mark Udall — who has offered his own balanced budget amendment — and Claire McCaskill — who has pushed for a 20.6% of GDP cap on spending — are two others who might vote for another balanced budget amendment.

But even if it gets hung up in one or both chambers, Cornyn still believes that the balanced budget amendment will at least be a useful guide to politics.

"I think the voters would know," he told Human Events, "with very stark clarity, who is for a balanced budget and who is not."

Typically all anyone needs to know about where a politician stands on a balanced budget is party affiliation. But maybe the shocking behavior of the Obama spending machine will clear up some Democrats' thinking. For those who refuse to learn, there are the elections of 2012.

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/567387/201103281851/Budget-Balance-By-Law.htm

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Feb 18

Obama’s Budget Is Not “Winning the Future”

With brazen arrogance and unfettered prevarication and sophistry, Obama claims that his new budget for 2012 will be a down payment on deficit reduction and part of the plan of “winning the future”. Meanwhile, his $3.7 trillion plan includes at least a $1.65 trillion deficit, substantially exceeding his outrageous and previous record setting deficit of $1.3 trillion. It also includes part of his planned 10 year tax hike of $1.6 trillion.

So will this massive deficit spending actually reduce the debt?

Of course not! This is so elementary that even a cave man could figure this out.

But this is no surprise ... we are dealing with Obama.

Obama Has Already Thrown in Towel on 'Winning the Future'
David Limbaugh 2/15/2011

It's pretty hard to stomach when President Obama even talks in terms of cutting the deficit, because his entire economic philosophy compels him to keep spending as if his goal were to impoverish our children and because he continues, in fact, to spend at such bankrupting levels.

Reuters reports that Obama's proposed budget would cut the deficit by $1.1 trillion over 10 years. Are you kidding me? We wouldn't even come close to balancing the budget if we applied all those cuts in one year, but spread out over 10 years, they are insulting. Plus, many of these "cuts" would be solely the result of bringing troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

We also learned that Obama's deficit for 2011 would not be the outrageously obscene $1.5 trillion the Congressional Budget Office revealed last month, which was already substantially above last year's $1.3 trillion, but a staggering $1.65 trillion.

With their signature audacity and cynicism, White House officials dubbed the administration's 10-year plan a "down payment" on future deficit reduction. I'm not sure that even George Orwell could wrap his arms around such sophistry. To call an enormous increase in an already gargantuan budget deficit a "down payment" on anything (other than this nation's imminent financial ruin) does violence to the English language.

The administration would have us believe that its enormous deficits are the new base line and that as long as we keep deficits at, say, $1 trillion, we are moving toward balancing the budget -- wholly ignoring that our national debt would be increasing by $1 trillion every year.

You don't make progress toward balancing the budget by deliberately jacking up federal discretionary spending to unprecedented levels and then locking in those unsustainable figures with a spending freeze. You don't decrease deficits by first increasing them, and you can never make headway on reducing the national debt until you eliminate deficits altogether.

Putting aside the deceit in the term "down payment," what is with the administration's idea that we need to ease into fiscally responsible behavior? How can Obama and company pat themselves on the back for their perpetual deferrals of real budget cuts in exchange for endless empty promises that we're really going to get serious about this next year or the one after that?

The ugly truth is that they aren't serious about it, because, in addition to their paltry proposed cuts in discretionary spending, they're not even pretending to tackle the entitlement crisis, which is where the real fiscal problem lies, as everyone knows.

But get this: Despite these new horrifying budget projections, Obama's budget director, Jacob Lew, said on CNBC Monday morning, "Our budget also reduces the deficit. We've accomplished the goal which the commission set out to accomplish." Well, that must be news to Erskine Bowles, who heads that commission.

According to the Senate Budget Committee's ranking member, Jeff Sessions, Bowles said that the president's budget would come nowhere close to avoiding this fiscal crisis the nation is facing. Sessions said, "The president has not told us the truth."

Unfazed, Lew insists that Obama's budget would make a real difference and involve real sacrifice. "What I would tell you about this budget is it has a lot of pain." Pain? The only pain this budget could possibly cause is that to future generations of Americans.
Does that ever count for anything with these people?

When pressed about the administration's utter failure to address entitlements, Lew unapologetically said that it would be pointless to tackle them without bipartisan action. Come on. You can't possibly have bipartisan action on entitlements when Democrats have no intention of reforming them.

Meanwhile, President Obama says he's leading us toward "winning the future." "How?" you might ask. Well, he told a group of middle-school children in Maryland that the only way we can win the future is to make sure "that every American is equipped to compete with any worker, anywhere in the world." And the only way to do that "is if our government starts living within its means, if we start taking responsibility for our deficits."

So, let's make sure we understand him correctly. The only way we can win the future is if we balance the budget, yet he is barely committed even to appreciably reducing our current levels of bankrupting deficits, much less tackling the far greater problem of entitlements. In other words, using his own metric, he's thrown in the towel on "winning the future," even while making it his 2012 re-election slogan. And people wonder why some speculate as to whether he's wreaking this havoc on purpose.

All of this underscores just how imperative it is that Republicans seize this moment. There's no time to haggle over what $100 billion in cuts would mean or to delay getting behind entitlement restructuring, such as the plan envisioned by Rep. Paul Ryan in "A Roadmap for America's Future" or one similarly serious. Time's up, guys.

http://townhall.com/columnists/davidlimbaugh/2011/02/15/obama_has_already_thrown_in_towel_on_winning_the_future

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Feb 2

The Emptiness of Obama’s Approach On Government Spending and Debt Reduction

Obama's approaches to federal spending and deficit reduction and effectively dealing with the national debt as outlined in his State of the Union speech are nothing short of wildly inept and outrageously underwhelming. He didn't even suggest following the recommendations of his own appointed partisan panel charged with addressing these issues.

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Dec 15

Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R. – WI) Roadmap For America’s Future Is Best Approach For Effectively Dealing With Our Spiraling Debt

For far too long, politicians on both sides of the aisle have refused to seriously address the looming financial apocalypse facing this nation. Escalating costs and expenditures far outpacing collections along with unfavorable demographics are taking this country to debt levels that will be unsustainable and impossible to reverse. Bankruptcy is not an option but the alternatives are marginally better. Regardless, the impact on our standard of living would be devastating.

What we need now is an aggressive, realistic and effective long term solution that can be implemented before we reach the point of no return which this country is rapidly approaching. Of course, it would need bipartisan support and some real fortitude and sacrifice in order to effect the desirable changes.

Congressman Paul Ryan (R - WI) has formulated a plan call the Roadmap for America's Future which meets this challenge head on and seems to provide the best strategy thus far and one that has a real chance for success.  In contrast, the recommendations of Obama’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform are inadequate, inaccurate and misguided.

In the following editorial, Sarah Palin lucidly describes why she feels that the Ryan plan offers the best hope to rectify our financial disaster.

Why I Support the Ryan Roadmap
Let's not settle for the big-government status quo, which is what the president's deficit commission offers.
Sarah Palin

The publication of the findings of the president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was indeed, as the report was titled, "A Moment of Truth." The report shows we're much closer to the budgetary breaking point than previously assumed. The Medicare Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2017. As early as 2025, federal revenue will barely be enough to pay for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on our national debt. With spending structurally outpacing revenue, something clearly needs to be done to avert national bankruptcy.


Speaking with WSJ's Jerry Seib, Congressman Paul Ryan (R, WI) insisted that the deal between Republicans and the White House on the Bush Tax Cuts was not a second stimulus and that the agreement would promote growth despite adding to the deficit.



The commission itself calculates that, even if all of its recommendations are implemented, the federal budget will continue to balloon—to an estimated $5 trillion in 2020, from an already unprecedented $3.5 trillion today. The commission makes only a limited effort to cut spending below the current trend set by the Obama administration.

Among the few areas of spending it does single out for cuts is defense—the one area where we shouldn't be cutting corners at a time of war. Worst of all, the commission's proposals institutionalize the current administration's new big spending commitments, including ObamaCare. Not only does it leave ObamaCare intact, but its proposals would lead to a public option being introduced by the backdoor, with the chairmen's report suggesting a second look at a government-run health-care program if costs continue to soar.

It also implicitly endorses the use of "death panel"-like rationing by way of the new Independent Payments Advisory Board—making bureaucrats, not medical professionals, the ultimate arbiters of what types of treatment will (and especially will not) be reimbursed under Medicare.

The commission's recommendations are a disappointment. That doesn't mean, though, that the commission's work was a wasted effort. For one thing, it has exposed the large and unsustainable deficits that the Obama administration has created through its reckless "spend now, tax later" policies. It also establishes a clear bipartisan consensus on the need to fundamentally reform our entitlement programs. We need a better plan to build on these conclusions with common-sense reforms to tackle our long-term funding crisis in a sustainable way.

In my view, a better plan is the Roadmap for America's Future produced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.). The Roadmap offers a reliable path to long-term solvency for our entitlement programs, and it does so by encouraging personal responsibility and independence.

On health care, it would replace ObamaCare with a new system in which people are given greater control over their own health-care spending. It achieves this partly through creating medical savings accounts and a new health-care tax credit—the only tax credit that would be left in a radically simplified new income tax system that people can opt into if they wish.

The Roadmap would also replace our high and anticompetitive corporate income tax with a business consumption tax of just 8.5%. The overall tax burden would be limited to 19% of GDP (compared to 21% under the deficit commission's proposals). Beyond that, Rep. Ryan proposes fundamental reform of Medicare for those under 55 by turning the current benefit into a voucher with which people can purchase their own care.

Associated Press

On Social Security, as with Medicare, the Roadmap honors our commitments to those who are already receiving benefits by guaranteeing all existing rights to people over the age of 55. Those below that age are offered a choice: They can remain in the traditional government-run system or direct a portion of their payroll taxes to personal accounts, owned by them, managed by the Social Security Administration and guaranteed by the federal government. Under the Roadmap's proposals, they can pass these savings onto their heirs.

The current Medicaid system, the majority of which is paid for by the federal government but administered by the states, would be replaced by a block-grant system that would reward economizing states.

Together these reforms help to secure our entitlement programs for the 21st century. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Roadmap would lead to lower deficits and a much lower federal debt. The CBO estimates that under current spending plans, our federal debt would rise to 87% of GDP by 2020, to 223% by 2040, and to 433% by 2060. Under Rep. Ryan's Roadmap, the CBO estimates that debt would rise much more slowly, peaking at 99% in 2040 and then dropping back to 77% by 2060.

Put simply: Our country is on the path toward bankruptcy. We must turn around before it's too late, and the Roadmap offers a clear plan for doing so. But it does more than just fend off disaster. CBO calculations show that the Roadmap would also help create a "much more favorable macroeconomic outlook" for the next half-century. The CBO estimates that under the Roadmap, by 2058 per-person GDP would be around 70% higher than the current trend.

Is Rep. Ryan's Roadmap perfect? Of course not—no government plan ever is. But it's the best plan on the table at a time when doing nothing is no longer an option.

Let's not settle for the big-government status quo, which is what the president's commission offers. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to make these tough decisions so that they might inherit a prosperous and strong America like the one we were given.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703766704576009322838245628.html#printMode

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Dec 7

Realistic Considerations for a Substantial Reduction in Federal Government Spending and Deficit Reduction

Government spending is recklessly out of control and untenable with expenditures far exceeding revenues. Concomitantly, the size of the federal government increases unrelentingly.

The areas of consuming the largest fraction of the federal dollar and ever increasing – Medicare and Social Security – can’t be reduced drastically for those presently receiving benefits or approaching the age of eligibility. This further affects flexibility and spending cut options.

So, what might be some outside the box but effective options that should be considered to rein in government spending and eliminate the budget deficit?  Conservative columnist Larry Elder has a list of constructive and realistic suggestions that just might fit the “bill” (of course, no pun intended!).

How To Treat Main Problem Of Gov't Bloat
Larry Elder   12/01/2010

President Obama's fiscal commission supposedly offers an "aggressive prescription" to reduce the federal deficit. It's not just the debt and deficit, stupid. It's the size, scope and bloat of the federal government. Here's my plan:

1. Accept the political reality that (a) taxes cannot be raised, and (b) entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) cannot be cut for current or near-future beneficiaries. Voters will not vote to raise their taxes. Voters will not vote to cut off their money. And politicians want votes.

2. To solve this, we need to raise money. How? Fund current and near-term liabilities by selling federally owned land. The government owns more than one-fourth of the land in America. The land use could then be taxed, raising still more revenue.

3. Sell or contract out government enterprises, including but not limited to Amtrak, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Hoover and Bonneville dams, operation of the post office, and government-run nuclear and other power plants.

4. Shut several federal departments and agencies, including Energy, Education, Labor, HUD, HHS (including the Surgeon General), Interior (no need after government land is sold), Commerce and the EPA.

5. "Grandfather" workers 55 and older into existing Medicare and Social Security plans. Offer those under 55 the option of setting up private savings accounts in lieu of Social Security. To replace Medicare, offer those under 55 the option of putting tax-free money into health savings accounts.

One can buy, as with car insurance, a policy with a high deductible for catastrophic care. Other medical needs would be paid for out of the HSA. Such insurance would be cheap, and when people pay directly (not via a third party) for other medical needs, they're better shoppers, and providers would compete to provide quality affordable care.

6. Grandfather everyone now on Medicaid, and then admit no more people and end the program at the federal level. Charity is not allowed by the Constitution, and it should be left to the states or to the private and nonprofit sectors. Once voters — of whom many are on Social Security or will be within 10 years — realize that they will not be "hurt," they'll be more likely to support this plan and to vote in politicians who do.

7. Change the law giving businesses write-offs for offering health insurance to their employees. People don't get car insurance or homeowners insurance through their employers. Why health insurance? Give individuals that same deductible (assuming the IRS remains), thus encouraging individuals to purchase their own policies. This would end the "portability" problem that occurs when people lose or change jobs.

8. To ensure that the federal government does not re-bloat, pass a constitutional amendment that limits the federal government to a small fixed percentage of GDP.

9. Abolish the IRS. With a dramatically reduced government, the essential federal duties — set forth in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution — could be paid for, as envisioned by the Founders, by duties and tariffs on imports and exports.

10. Amend the Constitution to deny citizenship to children of illegal aliens. America — unlike most industrial nations — grants citizenship to children of illegal aliens simply because they were born on its soil. The 14th Amendment was meant only to confer citizenship on newly freed slaves, not on illegal aliens. But since the Supreme Court has ruled otherwise, the Constitution must be changed. Illegal immigration is unfair to those lawfully trying to gain entry, costs taxpayers money and affects the country's culture. Citizens ought to have a say about this.

11. Increase the number of, and ease the process for, legal immigrants — tailored to high-end, well-educated foreigners who would add to the industrial capital of the nation. Establish a truly temporary guest-worker program, the size and duration of which would be determined by the country's needs. Hold back a portion of the alien's salary in a government account, to be given back only when the alien leaves.

12. Close the borders. Put the appropriate mix of border guards, fencing and other methods of policing the border and stopping aliens from entering, whether from the south or the north. Establish a means of monitoring those here legally so they do not overstay. Check the immigration status of everyone arrested, and turn illegals over to ICE. Mandate E-Verify for all workers. Require all illegal aliens to register with the feds, and deport those convicted of serious crimes beyond illegal entry and using fraudulent documents to obtain work, granting legal status, but not citizenship, for the rest.

13. Amend the Constitution to overturn Supreme Court decisions that prohibit states from denying free public education and medical benefits, including emergency benefits, to illegal aliens.

14. Our military exists for our own national security. Europe and Japan can and should defend themselves. End all nondefense foreign aid, including contributions to the International Monetary Fund and to the World Bank.

Any questions?

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/555388/201012011830/How-To-Treat-Main-Problem-Of-Govt-Bloat.aspx

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Sep 23

Rebalancing the Federal Government and Returning Power Back to the People

Congress and most particularly Democrats, have abused their position of power and authority for their own welfare and not for the interests of their constituencies. They have run roughshod over the Constitution, violating its delineated limitations of the federal government. Consequently, our government has been metamorphosing into a massive, tyrannical, oppressive, corrupt, and irresponsible one that seems to serve its own needs and that of selected groups while enslaving productive citizens with usurious taxation, restricting rights and freedoms and markedly curtailing our choices and activities.

This is not the nation our Founding Fathers designed but it was a state that they feared could evolve over time because of the effects of power. Therefore, they also allowed for other checks and balances and means to reverse deleterious changes imposed by a corrupted federal government.

Power to the People -- How to Balance the Budget
By Sen. John Cornyn    September 13, 2010 | FoxNews.com

Americans are asserting their right of self-government with enthusiasm we have not seen in years. Many have participated in public rallies like those during the fight for independence more than two centuries ago. Others have made their voices heard through social networks, blogs, and other technologies of the modern era. Millions have already participated in competitive primaries across the nation. They have made clear that if Washington does not change its ways, then they will change Washington this November.

The midterm elections are only one way the American people are seeking to reform their government. Earlier this year, Florida legislators made the Sunshine State the latest to invoke Article V of the Constitution, by calling for a constitutional convention to restore some of the checks and balances that the Founders intended but which Washington is ignoring.

More than three dozen states have petitioned Congress to call a convention to propose reforms, and a recent conference of state legislators brought together many leaders looking to add their states to this movement. Recent polling suggests that a plurality of Americans support a convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution if Congress will not do so.

A Balanced Budget Amendment has been linked to the idea of a constitutional convention for a simple reason: Congress refuses to restrain government spending. Our national debt is now more than $13 trillion, and has increased by more than 25 percent since the beginning of the Obama administration. We are spending more than $30,000 per household, and borrowing more than 40 cents of every dollar we spend.

Under the president’s budget, our public debt will reach 63 percent of our economy by the end of this year and will be 90 percent of our economy in just ten years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

A Balanced Budget Amendment would force Congress to keep spending in line with the people’s willingness to pay for it, yet the United States Senate has refused even to debate the proposed amendment that I and other colleagues have sponsored.

This kind of congressional inaction gravely concerned the Founders. They foresaw that Congress might resist limits on federal power. So they included the constitutional convention process to give the people the opportunity to propose amendments without congressional pre-approval. The Founders also required that three-quarters of the state legislatures must approve any amendment to our Constitution. That high standard remains in place to guard against radical changes to our form of government or other measures without very broad popular support.

A constitutional convention would be part of a national conversation that could last well beyond one or two election cycles. The very length of the convention and ratification process would allow the American people ample opportunity to judge proposed reforms, and ensure that they would strengthen the checks and balances that have served our nation well.
In an era when Congress passes sweeping bills before many members even have a chance to read them, a deliberative approach to governance would be a refreshing change for most of us.

At the same time, popular support for a constitutional convention can also spur Congress to take action on reforms that are currently being ignored. The prospect of another constitutional convention prompted Congress to adopt the Bill of Rights. Other movements to call conventions resulted in the direct election of Senators nearly a century ago, and major budget reforms in the 1980s. Today’s convention movement could keep the pressure on Congress to bring the Balanced Budget Amendment to the floors of both houses, and then to the states.

Some in Washington fear popular movements to amend our Constitution, when they deserve our respect. After all, “We the People” established our Constitution in the first place, and we have amended it more than two dozen times to protect our liberties and make Washington function better. The people are not a threat to our government, but its ultimate source of legitimacy and its greatest hope for needed reforms.

Republican John Cornyn represents Texas in the United States Senate.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/09/13/sen-john-cornyn-constitutional-convention-balanced-budget-obama-founders/

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