State Powers

The states are powerful enough to stand up to the federal government when it violates citizens’ rights. Learn how we can better leverage the power of states.

<p>The states are powerful enough to stand up to the federal government when it violates citizens’ rights. Learn how we can better leverage the power of states.</p>

The federal government has spent wildly and imposed excessive mandates because the 50 states have neglected to check its growth. No “silver bullet” exists to instantly restore the proper balance of power between the states and federal government. Nevertheless, efforts to revive federalism need to include the best tools available, including an application from two-thirds of states legislatures for Congress to call a convention for proposing constitutional amendments that would reform the federal government.

A federal court in Michigan recently ignored reasoning used by other judges in Virginia and Florida and dismissed a private lawsuit against the federal health care reform law. The judge in Michigan relied on an argument by Congress that mandating everyone to have insurance will eventually lower overall costs for health care. But that line of thinking disregards a half-century of experience with health insurance in the United States.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution gives a supermajority of state legislatures the power to call a convention to restrain an overreaching federal government through targeted constitutional amendments. There is no reason to worry about a “runaway” convention because three-fourths of the states—38 states—would have to ratify whatever amendment might be proposed. Moreover, nothing in the nation’s history justifies fear of a “runaway” convention.

Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend in 1798 that one thing missing from the newly minted Constitution was some kind of limit on federal debt:

"I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing."

Any effort to call for an amendments convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution must “make the sale” to 34 state legislatures and “close the deal” with 38 states to ratify any amendment. Resolutions to apply for a convention must consider the political appeal of potential suggestions. The National Debt Relief Amendment sets the standard for a highly marketable idea.

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.

This year, I made just one New Year’s Resolution: to press for an Article V Amendments Convention.

Talk of a convention has brewed in political circles for years. But given the massive growth of the federal government in recent years, with spending nearly doubled from $2.1 trillion in 1995 to $4 trillion in 2010, an amendments convention cannot come too soon.

A new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives fulfilled a campaign promise when it voted 245-189 late Wednesday to repeal President Obama’s health care reform law. But Democrats who still control the U.S. Senate have pledged to prevent the repeal from moving any further.

By Ralph Benko

Welcome to the Wild West, 2012 style.  The Feds to Tombstone:  “If you want to fix your water line, better lawyer up and talk to President Obama.”

Arizona and five other states are considering use of their power under Article V of the U.S. Constitution to initiate an amendments convention. With the federal debt exceeding $14 trillion, I believe nothing short of state-initiated constitutional reform will stop the impending fiscal train wreck.