America’s national debt is approaching $14 trillion. To pay that off, every man, woman, and child in this country would have to cough up more than $44,000. And with Congress unlikely to stop spending, the debt is likely to more than double by 2020.
But we can stop the mounting debt. Last week, model legislation for the National Debt Relief Amendment was preliminarily approved by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—a nonpartisan organization that brings together state legislators from around the country to discuss and debate public policy. Upon final approval from ALEC’s Board of Directors, the National Debt Relief Amendment will be ready for a nationwide effort to amend the U.S. Constitution with the following language: “An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the separate States.”
The National Debt Relief Amendment can’t come a moment too soon. With the failure of the Bowles-Simpson debt reduction plan, and the lack of any consensus around any alternative plan, it is readily apparent that neither party in Washington, D.C. will be able to make the tough calls needed to reduce the federal debt.
Instead of waiting on Washington, the National Debt Relief Amendment would give state legislatures—the representative bodies that are closest to the people—the power to impose fiscal restraint on the federal government. It’s a simple idea, but powerful enough to ensure that our children and grandchildren won’t be saddled with the bill for today’s spending excesses.
Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.
Goldwater Institute: Amending the Constitution by Convention: A Complete View of the Founders’ Plan
RestoringFreedom.org: Frequently Asked Questions
U.S.DebtClock.org: National debt