Reining in Congress: An Enforceable Balanced Budget Amendment

There is growing sentiment that one or more constitutional amendments may be necessary to rein in the runaway Congress.

The principal mechanism the Founders built into the Constitution for such contingencies is the procedure in Article V by which two thirds of the state legislatures force what the Constitution calls a “Convention for proposing Amendments.”    Essentially this is a meeting of state legislative representatives for the drafting of one or more amendments on subjects designated by the legislatures.

Of course, Congress and its apologists have every reason to prevent such a convention from being called, so they have widely misled people as its nature and powers.  But if corrective amendments are to be proposed, there is no alternative to such a convention. History has shown that Congress will not do it:  Repeal of Prohibition aside, Congress has not proposed a constitutional amendment to limit or define its own powers since it passed the Bill of Rights in 1789!

In other posts I have dealt with the convention bugaboos—see, e.g., here and here. They need not detain us at this point. The more important questions are:

* What amendments are appropriate? and

* How should they be drafted?

Many people have their own pet amendments they’d like to see passed, but realistically, any such proposal must meet at least four criteria. To illustrate, I’ll test versions of balanced budget amendments against each of the four:


Not in YOUR front yard.

I have a friend that I am going to call Sally for the sake of this post.

I would best describe Sally as a left leaning progressive. She believes strongly in using the strong arm of government to facilitate “social justice.”

Today Sally found the thumb of regulation on the other hand. And it pressed firmly down on her vision for America.

Sally tenaciously advocates for organic food, and involves herself heavily in urban farming. On Friday, she learned that city officials in a Detroit suburb charged a woman with a misdemeanor for growing a garden in her front yard. Seems that runs afoul of the authorities’ vision of “suitable” front yard vegetation.

“If you look at the definition of what suitable is in Webster’s dictionary, it will say common. So, if you look around and you look in any other community, what’s common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers,” Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski told WJBK Fox 2 in Detroit.

So basically, Kevin gets to use his power as a city planner to legislate his vision of a nice front yard on every Oak Park Citizen.


Constitutional Sentence Frags

There is one trick that the progressive left likes to use which is to fragmentize the constitution in order to get the meaning that they want. A good example of this is the commerce clause where they use the narrow phrase ‘regulate commerce’ to suggest that congress has the power to regulate commercial activities.

They fail to read the entire sentence which suggest that congress only has the power to regulate commerce between states, Indian tribes, and foreign nations which sounds more like the basic power to control the flow of goods across a border. They hope that the public will not read the document in its entirety and use a few sentence fragments to get the meaning they want.

Recently, in this article it has been reported that Obama is going to ignore the debt cap and is claiming another sentence fragment in the fourteenth amendment. That fragment is “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law”. When you take that one sentence fragment as it is it sounds like all public debts are valid but if you look at the entire sentence “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. ” it says something much different.


Texas Leadership Fails Texans

Co-authored by Steve Baysinger and Brian Roberts

This week after a little time to reflect, Texans are wondering what happened to the TSA bill last week. A month ago it looked like shoe-in, then it looked dead, then it was reborn, then it was delayed in creative ways only to find the dustbin at the end of the special session. Barring reintroduction in a second special session, the bill is dead for the immediate future. But what happened? Why are Texas leaders refusing to step between the TSA agents’ fondling fingers and citizen’s dignity? Why are Texas leaders allowing the TSA to run around the clear limitations set forth in the Fourth Amendment?

Lots of questions. Very few answers.

But there is one answer that remains clear… the Texas leadership completely failed Texans!

Less than a month ago, the confidence level in passing the TSA bill was high. The Texas House had just passed the bill with a vote of 138-0. The Senate was next and was widely reported to have near unanimous support for the bill as well. Then it would be off to Gov. Perry’s office. This was a strongly worded piece of legislation that rejected outright invasive searches without probable cause. Few state representatives at the time were willing to side with a federal agency that groped innocent citizens and denied Texans their Fourth Amendment rights. At this point in time, passing the legislation looked like a sure thing.

Suddenly, without warning,  the Department of Justice engaged head-on  the Texas legislative process, threatening Texas with a no-fly zone should this legislation pass. From then on everything changed. Never mind, the DOJ letter was laughably inaccurate in its suggestion that the Supremacy Clause could be used to deny Fourth Amendment protections. Never mind,  the TSA is acting as a rouge agency without laws authorizing its behavior.  Never mind, that an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would be required to negate the Fourth Amendment so that such authority might be given to the TSA. Never mind, the wide range of confirmed incidence of overzealous TSA gropers of babies, pre-teens, grandmothers and even a Miss USA contestant. Never mind, the exact purpose of this bill was to say “NO” to the federal government!

Regardless, everything changed.


How to Arrest The Economy-Strangling EPA

Horse_03The Supreme Court ruled on June 20, 2011 that the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (primarily carbon) rests with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), saying that the EPA is better equipped to deal with the science of greenhouse gases (aka global warming, climate change and CO2).  The Clean Air Act has been expanded and the EPA is in a power grab for jurisdiction over vehicle emissions and is now planning control over utilities.

EPA enforcement over utilities will cause the following problems:

•  Skyrocketing heating (oil & gas) and electricity bills (click here to see Obama admit this)
•  Job killing restrictions on energy production
•  Blackouts caused by unreliable “green” energy (wind & solar)
•  Import of energy causing dependency on other countries
•  Increase in dangerous and expensive nuclear energy
•  Energy regulations dictated by UN Agenda 21 Sustainable Development
•  Cap-and-trade schemes and carbon credits will apply to ALL items that are produced, so there will be higher prices for EVERYTHING!

The key issues in EPA regulation of greenhouse gases are:

1.  The EPA lacks Constitutional authority to regulate harmless carbon dioxide.

2.  The global warming theory is wrong and based in corrupt science.

3.  The UN directs global warming policies.


Beware of Republican Apologist Teaocons

by Tona Monroe

While Tennessee has two Republican Senators, neither is particularly known for being a principled conservative.  Senator Bob Corker quickly earned the nickname “Bailout Bob” after voting for the TARP bailout and the list of his unconstitutional votes is a mile long.  Yet, a recent article would have the public believe that Tennessee Tea Partiers are actually supporting Corker in 2012.

The article only quotes one Tea Party member that actually supports Bob Corker, and that is Mark Skoda a Memphis Tea Party leader and radio talk show host.  The article quotes two people that are strongly against Corker, one identified as a Tea Party activist and the other a Redstate blogger.  It also quotes talk show host Steve Gill saying he doesn’t understand why the Tea Party is against Bob.

If the article is trying to establish that Tea Partiers are changing from an unfavorable to favorable view of Bob Corker, then why does the author only quote one for Corker, two against and one saying he doesn’t understand why Tea Partiers do not like Corker?  Notice that the two speaking favorably of Bob Corker are the ones with the microphones.

Steve Gill is an establishment Republican that was appointed to a White House fellowhip by President George H. W. Bush and the author of a 2007 book discussing how Fred Thompson could have impacted the 2008 Presidential Race.  Fred Thompson is a former status quo globalist Senator from Tennessee and member of the CFR.

Mark Skoda is neocon that is politically posturing through the Tea Party to become an establishment Republican.  He is a Teacon, which is a neocon that presents his or herself as being fed up with reckless establishment politics, but actively works to maintain it as long as it’s Republican.  He displays a video on his homepage of neocon Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, whose voting record is anything but constitutional, congratulating him on his radio station.


Mitch Daniels and the Federal Money Grab

For much of the nation’s history, policymakers recognized that the federal government’s powers were “few and defined,” as James Madison noted. Issues like education and community development were largely left to the states. Unfortunately, the separation of responsibilities between the federal government and states has been eroded to the point that federal funds now account for approximately a third of total state spending. A consequence is that federal aid to the states has fostered bigger government at all levels.

State policymakers are addicted to federal money. The appeal is obvious: they get to take credit for all the wonderful things they do with money that they didn’t have to tax out of their state’s voters. Thus, it has been interesting to observe Republican governors who willfully fed at the federal trough now pontificate on the dangers of Washington’s spending addiction as potential or declared candidates for president.

Although he ultimately decided against running for president, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has carefully crafted a public image as a voice of reason when it comes to addressing the federal government’s budget problems. When he was flirting with a run for president, Daniels received fawning coverage from various observers for labeling the federal government’s debt the “new red menace.”


Poor Rick Scott. He Was Only Following the Law

 “I don’t know that I would have made the decision to go forward with this if I had been around three or four years ago,” he said in St. Petersburg at the Florida Press Association/Florida Society of News Editors annual meeting. “I walked in with this set of facts.” He said his attorneys told him he would likely lose in court if he was sued for killing the $1.28 billion, 61.5-mile project. (St.Pete Times, Saturday July 2.2011-

Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the South Florida Tea Party, said that Scott’s decision was “influenced by big-money lobbyists” and that the governor “failed to deliver on his promises.” (St.Pete Times, Saturday July 2.2011-

“For one thing, the train was leaving the station before he took office. The Legislature approved it with overwhelming, bipartisan majorities in both houses, and the measure was signed by Gov. Charlie Crist. Scott froze the contracts earlier this year, saying he needed time to vet the details. At the time, lawmakers, including Senate Budget Chair J.D. Alexander, reiterated their support for the project and said he ought to release the money. For his part, Scott kept the money in his budget proposal.” (Florida Independent, Saturday July 2, 2011