cross-posted from the Pennsylvania Tenth Amendment Center

We already have a balanced budget amendment.  It’s called the Tenth Amendment

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Dear Harrisburg,

For weeks, we have been bombarded with news and e-mails, tweets and facebook statuses about the debt ceiling debates in Washington DC. Can the congress and the president reach a deal?  Will the United States default on its debts?  Will the credit reporting agencies downgrade the United States’ credit rating?

One theme is common in these communications.  It is a failure of leadership.  One side of the aisle tells us that it goes to show President Obama’s incompetence and inexperience.  The other side of the aisle tells us that the congress is being held hostage by ideological tea-party extremists.  I see things differently.  In my opinion, people who are casting blame at Washington are missing the point.  What the debt ceiling debate tells me is that you, our elected officials in Harrisburg have let us down.

If the Tenth Amendment were being upheld, the federal government would not be borrowing sixteen trillion dollars for use in bailing out European banks.  If the Tenth Amendment were being upheld, the federal government would not be spending trillions on an endless alphabet soup of Unconstitutional federal agencies.  If the Tenth Amendment were being upheld, the federal government would not be borrowing money and redistributing it around the world in the forms of “foreign aid” and welfare by proxy through the global deployment of our military.  So who is responsible for upholding the Tenth Amendment?

Jefferson, Madison and other federalists answered that question.  You are.  James Madison wrote, in Federalist 51,

Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people.  The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.

What have you, in Harrisburg, done recently to get control of Washington, DC?  Consider further, James Madison and the legislature of Virginia tell us in the Virginia Resolutions,

in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.

It has been your right and your duty to interpose between the federal government and every Unconstitutional use of federal money inside Pennsylvania’s borders and you have failed to do it.  It is too late now for any state to influence the current debt ceiling “crisis”, but if we are going to get out of this mess, you and the other state capitals are going to need to change your ways.

If one thing is clear in these current budget debates, it is that Washington is not going to fix Washington.  The fix must be imposed upon them.  Two groups have the responsibility for imposing this fix.  One group is “We the People”.  We must become informed and work to effect change through the ballot box and by engaging our elected officials.  We must also learn to protect our own rights.  The second group is the elected officials in state capitals around the country.  It is your right and your duty to study the U.S. Constitution and demand that Washington stay inside its Constitutional boundaries.  After all, as Jefferson and the legislature of Kentucky told us in the Kentucky Resolutions,

Resolved, That the several states composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that by compact, under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes, delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each state to itself the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force:

Even Pennsylvania’s own legislature once knew how the Constitutional balance should be maintained.

Should the general government in any of its departments violate the provisions of the constitution, it rests with the states, and with the people, to apply suitable remedies.

So what remedy have you applied to limit Washington’s overreach in the last year?  The last decade?  The last score of years?  The last century?  And we are surprised that Washington’s spending is out of control?  In reality, with Harrisburg sitting on the bench the way it has, it is simply amazing that we still have any freedom left at all.  Now is the time for Harrisburg and the other capitals to restore the proper Constitutional balance to the republic.

Thomas Sowell writes,

The national debt-ceiling law should be judged by what it actually does, not by how good an idea it seems to be. The one thing that the national debt-ceiling has never done is to put a ceiling on the rising national debt.

Sowell’s reasoning applies to the Tenth Amendment too.  Good idea or not, what has the Tenth Amendment actually done for this state during the last century or so?  The Tenth Amendment cannot enforce itself.  If it has been ineffective, it is because the parties to the Compact have allowed it to be ignored.  The Washington debt ceiling debate is merely the latest symptom of that neglect.  It is time for Harrisburg to start driving Washington towards a balanced budget by applying suitable remedies to Washington’s vast sea of Unconstitutional spending.

In Liberty,

Pennsylvania Tenth Amendment Center

Steve Palmer

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



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