Fiddlin’ With the Constitution
Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, March 28, 2014 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler
Good morning, Jim. Something’s going on with all the calls for an Article V convention of the states – the latest label for a constitutional convention. According to leaders of the movement, an Article V convention would be called for only one purpose – to pass a balanced budget amendment – but don’t you believe it.
On March 6th of this year, the General Assembly passed S.R. 736 calling for a convention for three purposes – fiscal restraints on the federal government, limited power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limited terms of office for federal officials and members of Congress. While a balanced budget might be among the fiscal restraints, it is NOT mentioned and might NOT be included. So, S.R. 736 is requesting a convention to consider constitutional amendments in three areas that, most likely, would require many MORE than three amendments to get the job done.
On February 20th of this year, S.R. 371 passed, calling for a convention to pass an amendment to prohibit Congress from appropriating more money than is expected to be collected in federal taxes for that fiscal year. That may lean toward balancing the budget, but it does not mandate a balanced budget and it does not mention the deficit or the interest that must be paid on all that borrowed money. So, while Congress has liberty to spend as much money as received each year, there’s no provision for a “rainy day fund;” the deficit isn’t addressed at all; and the debt remains.S.R. 70 introduced in January 2013 is an interesting bill that passed the Senate February 26th of this year, but was left to die in the House. Instead of calling for an Article V convention of states, it asked Congress to adopt and pass a balanced budget amendment, then send it to the states for ratification, which is the safe way to amend the constitution. But Georgia is not asking for a balanced budget amendment or a safe way to change the constitution.
Here’s some food for thought. On January 14th, five governors, including Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, chair of the National Governor’s Association, were at the White House for a meeting with the president and vice president. “Governors Looking at Constitutional Convention to Reign in Federal Spending” was the title of the article reporting their visit. So, I have two questions: Did the governors, President Oama and Vice President Biden discuss a constitutional convention in that meeting? Is the executive branch pushing for a constitutional convention? Good questions! The answers could be very interesting … and very important! For Georgia Insight, I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.