A balanced budget amendment is far bigger than a presidential election

If the overspending of the federal government is not stopped soon, America may collapse. Luckily, a historic solution is on its way. 

The national debt is skyrocketing, and inflation remains incredibly high. The central government throws money that it does not have into various costly programs, causing interest rates to rise. Eventually, this spending will have to be paid for by taxes levied on the people. 

Last fiscal year, the government paid $666 billion in interest on public debt and $216 billion in interest on government trust fund debt, meaning that the total spent solely on interest was $882 billion. That same year, the national defense budget was $816.7 billion. In other words, we now spend more on our interest rates than on the safety of America. 

From the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Loren Enns, president of the Center for State-led National Debt Solutions, spoke with the Washington Examiner about his organization’s nationwide push to ratify the potential 28th amendment to the Constitution: the balanced budget amendment. 

“Congress is taking advantage of the full faith in credit that the world has in our economy. That’s why they’re getting away with this,” he said. However, as rates and prices continue to skyrocket, that faith will waver. “If the stock market crashes because investors lost trust, the shock will be felt around the world within 24 hours.” 

The solution starts with making Congress stop borrowing money. “The moment it can’t service that debt, then all faith in that economy and development will plummet.” Enns highlights Japan’s 1990s bubble pop as an example. “And we don’t want to become that. We didn’t get where we were in the 20th century because we were a debtor nation.”

“These guys are using the debt as a political game to say, ‘Let’s pass this legislation or that.’ They’re fooling around with the financial survival of our republic.” 

“It’s because there’s no one that calls them out on it. This is bigger than a presidential election. Far bigger. We’re talking about the underpinnings of our civilization.”

Enns thinks that such a corrupt and dangerous situation calls for an unprecedented measure: the ratification of an amendment forced by a state-led convention: “When the system is so broken, you just have to pause and rewire things.”

Article 5 of the Constitution allows two-thirds of the states to force Congress into a convention for the proposal of an amendment, upon which it will require votes from three-fourths of the state legislatures. Despite such a high bar of cooperation seeming unreachable in this political climate, Enns is confident that his proposal will find success.

For many years, he and his colleagues have gathered the support of 27 states, with a 28th currently on the way. This summer, promotion campaigns will ensue in four or five more. Once he reaches 32 pledges, he will bring together a bipartisan group of budget committee chairs to produce a coherent amendment document. At 33, the group will present the amendment to the House Judiciary Committee and tell it to pass the amendment or deal with a convention.

Enns says Congress will likely propose and ratify the proposal itself after that: “Each of the 50 states would send delegations made up of state legislatures. Do you think those legislatures are going to be a little pissed off that the states had to break that glass and pull the emergency lever?”

“I’ve talked to several legislators, and they’re coming with wood. They’re going to require a budget, and if the congressmen don’t meet it, then they will lose their offices. It would have a sword to the neck at that point.”

The balanced budget amendment will force Congress to place limits on its own expenditures. It will then have three options: to raise taxes on a population already upset over the government’s economic policies, make cuts overtime on various welfare and social security programs and upset the population over how that impacts the elderly and the poor, or tap into the land’s vast natural resources and unleash the American economy. The correct choice is obvious.

Enns understands this amendment as a widely bipartisan issue, arguing that “the U.S. national debt and its massive size is all we ever need” to convince most states. “Avoiding national bankruptcy should be an issue that everyone wants.” He points out that 49 of the 50 states already have balanced budget requirements in their constitutions. 

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He predicts that “when you have something so common sense and so simple,” we could see a 28th amendment get proposed as soon as next year. 

Voters both red and blue need to understand why prices are so high and what happens if they continue to ignore the real causes for these prices: Congressional bureaucrats spend tons of money, and they do not care how it affects us. State power exists precisely for this sort of situation; it is time we used it. 

Parker Miller is a 2024 Washington Examiner Winter Fellow.

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