PostHeaderIcon Proposed Constitutional Amendment #6

(As promised (threatened?) in a previous article, I intend to submit a number of proposed amendments to our Constitution that, in my own judgment, would help restore a Constitutional Republic in our nation. Some of these are my own, some are based on Mark Levin’s The Liberty Amendments and some have been suggested by others).

The Spending Constraint Amendment

Starting the year following ratification of this amendment, the Federal Government of the United States of America must operate by an established budget in which total budgeted spending does not exceed the total revenues collected by that government in the previous year.

Said annual budget must also contain a line item amounting to 10% of the total budget which will be used exclusively for retiring a portion of the public debt.

At the end of any budget year, should there remain any surplus revenue beyond that required to satisfy that year’s budget, such surplus will be used exclusively for retiring a portion of the public debt.

Under no circumstance is the public debt to be increased excepting for defending the Republic against a direct attack by a foreign power and in consequence of a Declaration of War, by the Congress of the United States of America, in accordance with Article I. of the United States Constitution.

I think this amendment hardly needs explanation or justification.

Please offer constructive comments as you see fit.

Troy L Robinson

10 Responses to “Proposed Constitutional Amendment #6”

  • ◄Dave► says:

    Troy, my initial reaction to reading this was to focus on the last paragraph, which incidentally addresses important issues beyond the subject at hand. Sorting out the absurdity of the unconstitutional ‘War Powers Act’ is another much needed reform. Congress does not (and should not) have the power to shirk its responsibility, to decide if and when to commit our nation to war with another, by simply legislating to transfer that power to the executive branch instead. Not only is it cowardly, it is a blatant transgression of the horizontal separation of powers, which our Founders carefully designed into our Constitution, most importantly to limit the power of the executive branch, where tyranny would most likely take root.

    Nor did our Constitution grant Orwell the power to change the plain meaning of the term ‘war,’ by substituting euphemisms like ‘police action.’ An act of war is war, and when our military commences breaking things and killing people on foreign soil, we are engaged in war, whatever Orwell’s acolytes are pleased to call it. When political sabre rattling progresses to war drums, as is currently happening over Syria, one of those drumbeats, of Constitutional necessity, must be a Congressional Declaration of War, before hostilities begin.

    That said, I find your last paragraph flawed as too restrictive. It is not difficult to imagine all manner of scenarios justifying a legitimate Declaration of War, absent actual invasion of our territory by hostile forces. E.g. of what value would we be in a mutual defense treaty, if we could not come to the aid of an ally being invaded? I reckon it would still require Congress to declare war; but our homeland would not need to be invaded to justify the act.

    Arguably, the Taliban’s refusal to turn over bin Laden after 9/11, would have justified a Declaration of War on Afghanistan, even though it was not them who attacked us. At least I certainly thought so at the time; but I still wanted Congress to declare it. The sinking of one of our ships, or the downing of one of our planes, civilian or military, in or over international waters by a hostile state, would certainly justify a Declaration of War, even if our homeland was not in jeopardy.

    Our warning growls would be rather ineffective, were we not willing to bite. Petty tyrants would soon be thumbing their nose and kicking sand in our face – sort of like they are starting to do now, with this clown in the White House. This, of course, raises the question of the definition of ‘foreign power,’ and how to handle attacks by non-state actors. How could we declare war on Al Qaeda, after this stateless, yet rather capable, military organization formally declared war on us, and repeatedly attacked our planes, ships, and embassies well before 9/11?

    I am wandering way off topic here, so I will stop; but some of these questions surely need to be considered, as we design our nifty Constitution 2.0 OS for America. ;) ◄Dave►

    • Troy says:

      Dave,
      I expected push-back on the last clause. While I respect your position, I will not change mine. The United states has engaged in far too many offensive wars at too far a cost in blood and treasure and at too little advantage for us Americans.

      I guess that what you see as mutual aid pacts, I see as those entangling alliances the Founders warned us about.

      Troy

      • ◄Dave► says:

        As I said, I’ll enjoy participating in the intellectual exercise, Troy; but let’s try not to fool ourselves. You also astutely observed therein:

        I do, however, expect problems attending a Constitution Convention and that is that those presently mismanaging our Federal Government would do everything in their collective power to:
        1) prevent such a Convention occurring, and
        2) to not acknowledge/obey such amendments that might result.

        …with which I wholeheartedly agree. It follows, therefore, that the best we can hope for by following Levin’s proposal and/or yours, is a revolution/civil war (same thing), the outcome of which might result in a rebooting of America with our updated Constitution 2.0 OS. The problem I see, is that this would be a very slow and frustrating process, that would take several years to reach the point of tacitly legitimizing rebellion, when it has already been several years since we concluded that this was the only real hope, for the future of our erstwhile free republic.

        Unfortunately, in the minds of most sheeple, it will not be a contest between the people and the oligarchs. The Incumbrepublocrat duopoly are masters at demagogy, which they so effectively use to keep us at each others’ throats instead of their own. Now that we have passed the tipping point, where most citizens reckon they get more out of the Federal trough than they have to put in, ever fewer are inclined to wish to change that equation. Thus, the oligarchs will have plenty of allies, when they couch the battle in terms of selfish fat cat individuals, trying to screw their altruistic collective of victims, out of their ‘equal rights to government’s benefits.’

        The first hurdle will be to convince the legislatures of 34 States, to officially petition Congress to call a Con-Con. That in itself, is an ambitious goal and no mean task. Given the vagaries of the timing of legislative sessions and their procedural processes in the various States, I would expect this to take a minimum of two years to accomplish, even if the idea caught on. For the sake of argument, let’s assume it only takes two years for the Congress to receive the requisite number of petitions. Then, the real battle can begin – or not – depending on one’s perspective.

        The oligarchs will use every dilatory tactic in their voluminous playbook, to delay actually setting a time and place for it. Meanwhile there will be uproarious partisan squabbling over all of the thorny details Schlafly discussed, for which there is no precedent to guide their decisions, like how many and how to apportion the delegates, etc. Getting through all of the committees, and crafting a compromise bill that they could actually pass in both houses of Congress, could easily take another couple of years.

        When I think about it, it would seem that if they called the Con-Con to commence on a date two years hence, sometime after a fresh election, naming themselves (with some justification, as the new duly elected representatives of the people) as the delegates, they would have legally fulfilled their Constitutional duty under Article V in response to the States’ request. No?

        Then, they would have a couple of years to get their ducks in a row, on what Amendments they wanted to offer. Now, if we can suggest an Amendment to repeal the 14th, 16th, 17th, et al Amendments, there is no way in hell to prevent them from adding the 2nd and 10th, etc. while they are at it. True, it would still take ratification by 38 States to pass them, and presently that is most unlikely; but it raises the specter of all the other social engineering Amendments, which have been proposed by the rabid culture warriors, being tossed onto the pile. Oy!

        OK, so somehow the Con-Con completes its work, and a raft of proposed Amendments is sent to the States for ratification. This process would take at least another couple of years, as 50 individual legislatures debate the merits of each one. But wait! If I read Article V correctly, the Congress could require the States to call 50 more Con-Cons for the purpose of their ratification, rather than doing it in their legislatures! This could be a whole new kettle of fish to deal with, of which I haven’t even begun to think through the ramifications.

        The bottom line is that the process, however it turns out, would take a minimum of 5 or 6 years to complete, before it progressed to the point of the oligarchs ignoring any positive results. Then, how long would that go on, before it finally triggered the inevitable revolt/civil war of which you speak? Have we got that much time, before the whole economic Ponzi scheme collapses on its own, and/or the regime declares martial law, and all such political endeavors are ceased, for the indeterminate duration of the ‘emergency?’ I seriously doubt it… ◄Dave►

        • Troy says:

          We can obviously continue to do nothing, knowing quite well where that will lead us. Indeed, I never had the slightest doubt that this is our course of choice.

          It could well be that letting things take their own course will actually have the same consequence as implementing my proposals. The downside is that the current mess is likely to go on long enough that all who once remembered liberty and free markets will be long dead.

          Yet, this meaningless work helps keep my brain active and that is worth something.

          Troy

  • I would propose something slightly different: Instead of allocating quantities of money, they should allocate percentages of tax revenue. So perhaps veterans get 4.32% of the available funds, whatever they may turn out to be, while debt gets 15%. The requirement on Congress for the budget would be that it total no more than 100%

    One beauty of this system is that you could simply mandate that for any given moment, funds be distributed according to the most recently passed valid budget, so there would be no more worry about deadlock derailing the system, or needing to predict future revenues, since it works independent of the actual quantities, and can be used to split each Dollar as it comes in.

    • ◄Dave► says:

      Hi Steel, it has been awhile. How goes it? I like your idea – a lot – and recommend we incorporate it. It would change the whole budgetary process, to just a decision over the percentages for each department/program, and the fair tax rate. Comparing just annual percentages, instead of mind-numbing figures spread out over 5 or 10 years, would make it much easier for citizens to see where their taxes are going, too.

      Under this system, I would suggest allowing each department to keep at least a significant portion, of any savings they may have made by the end of the fiscal year, toward a contingency fund to maintain payroll and operations during economic slumps, resulting in lower revenue. Currently, unspent funds must be turned back to the treasury, which generally results in a mad purchasing binge, just before the end of the fiscal year, so as not to leave the impression that their budget could be safely lowered. ;) ◄Dave►

      • Troy says:

        Steel’s proposal makes sense in many ways. Are the allotted percentages to change year-to-year (it would seem that they must as conditions also change)? Tat is, how could we allow flexibility while still restraining Congress from their current mischief?

        As to agencies keeping a “slush fund”, how is such fund to be kept? A government agency investing money seems fraught with opportunity for even more mischief. Otherwise, this seems a good idea. BTW, I do not think that “unspent funds must be turned back to the treasury”. I think such funds never leave the treasury (or, are never borrowed by the treasury) until such time as they have been spent. The budgets of the various agencies are merely so designated by the treasury which, ultimately, pays the bills incurred by the agencies. If I am correct (and I may not be), then the treasury ends up holding the unspent portion of the various agency budgets.

        Troy

        • ◄Dave► says:

          I said contingency fund, not slush fund. The usual connotation of the latter, is less than fiscally prudent. :)

          As to where the money actually resides, it is probably a combination of both. The accounting nightmare of running every petty cash purchase through Treasury for disbursement makes no sense. In any case, which bank account actually held unspent funds is a technicality, unimportant to the premise of amassing a contingency fund to smooth out cash flows, in response to the vagaries of actual revenue collection. ◄Dave►

  • ◄Dave►, It has been a while, but I’ve been lurking. I just had my first child (son) a couple days ago, so things have been busy. I like the idea of contingency savings. I remember when I was in high school, talking to the superintendent, he told me that they tried to use up every cent of their funding every year, because if they didn’t they had to send it back to be used for other schools, and that next year’s funding was based on what this year’s usage was. This is a terrible system, since it has everyone using all they get and then claiming they need more, rather than spending wisely.

    Troy, part of the beauty of the percentage system is that things don’t need to be done year to year. Any budgetary changes can be voted in and take effect immediately, since in the electronic age, each penny can be divided as it comes in. Doing things on a yearly basis is problematic, because it starts by allowing politicians to predict the value of their own legislation, and doesn’t leave room for crisis management without going into debt. Congress would have ultimate flexibility, so long as they could agree to both the newly increased funding they want, and the corresponding decrease elsewhere. If they were unable to come to agreement, they would be tacitly re-approving the previous budgetary percentages.

    • ◄Dave► says:

      Congratulations, Steel, on fatherhood and scoring a son on the first try. I am sure the future of our country just took on a whole new meaning for you.

      Yes, your superintendent described the process for most all of government, which sorely needs to change. Your proposal would go a long way toward doing just that. The more I ponder it, the better I like it. I love the elegance with which it would force fiscal discipline on Congress. No budget percentage could be raised for emotional and/or pandering purposes, without a concurrent lowering of some other percentage by the same amount. FEMA could have a growing contingency fund of its own for common emergencies, from its agreed budget percentage; but when a Katrina level event happens, some serious debate would attend an emotional decision to rearrange the budget, in order to rebuild a crumbling coastal city, which is below nominal sea-level in hurricane alley.

      You are right that the budgetary process would not need to be a fixed annual event, and that necessary adjustments could be made ad hoc at will. In fact, the presumption should be that an established percentage would remain valid indeterminately, until Congress chooses to change it. Very cool. Meanwhile, with the ‘fair tax’ in place, any endeavor to raise its rate, would get serious blow-back from the citizens, making it a very difficult thing to do politically. Absent a declared war, borrowing money on your son’s credit card would be virtually impossible. We really need to do this… ◄Dave►

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