clear
Sunday September 24th, 2017 1:41PM

GOP lawmakers push balanced budget mandate in Constitution

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PHOENIX (AP) — Republican lawmakers from 19 states are trying to develop a plan in Arizona this week for carrying out a growing, but unlikely, national effort to amend the Constitution to require a balanced U.S. budget, a long-held goal of conservatives who believe out-of-control spending is harming the nation.

The plan is to add an amendment to the Constitution through a convention — a longshot effort that has never been successfully done. All 27 amendments that have been adopted were proposed by Congress.

A balanced budget amendment is a core goal of conservative Republicans who have gained control of an increasing number of state Legislatures in recent years, now holding both chambers in 32 states. Backers include groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity.

The effort also comes against the backdrop of deep turmoil in Washington over debt spending. Top congressional Democrats last week cut a deal with President Donald Trump to increase the federal debt limit, avoiding for now a fight that commonly causes divisions and threats of a government shutdown.

The goal of amendment backers is to eliminate the federal deficit and drive down the national debt, which is approaching $20 trillion. The current federal budget includes spending of about $4 trillion and has a shortfall of nearly $700 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

"You've gotta try," New Hampshire state Sen. John Reagan said Tuesday. "How does this end, (these) nonstop credit card payments?"

Congress debated a balanced budget amendment in the early and mid-1990s, but it did not pass.

The lawmakers meeting this week are discussing a process that requires several steps. Thirty-four states must vote to adopt the amendment and convene a convention, but it still must be ratified by three-quarters of the states. Now, 27 states have active requests to convene a convention, all controlled by Republicans.

The goal is to come up with a formal convention plan if 34 states petition Congress.

Arizona is hosting 71 delegates this week, all Republicans. Arizona state Rep. Kelly Townsend said efforts to invite Democratic states have not been successful. Proposed rules say delegates must be approved by both chambers of their state Legislature "so that they can legitimately vote and represent their state," Townsend said.

Opponents of the amendment argue that a convention could go dangerously off-track and move into wholesale rewrites of other areas of the Constitution, such as gun rights, an abortion ban and term limits. They also say a balanced budget amendment could threaten the economy.

"By requiring a balanced budget every year, no matter the state of the economy, such an amendment would risk tipping weak economies into recession and making recessions longer and deeper, causing very large job losses," according to a policy paper by the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

That's because lawmakers would be forced to cut spending during recessions, removing a key way the federal government can boost economic activity.

Townsend said the three-quarters requirement to ratify the amendment limits the chances of a "runaway convention" where delegates could do a wholesale rewrite of the Constitution.

"Whatever we do when we close down and adjourn, our final product has to be viable. It's not binding yet, and the states have to ratify it — that's 38 of them," she said.

Even some conservatives worry about a constitutional convention.

U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican, routinely blocked legislation authorizing a convention during the four years he led the state Senate. He wrote a book in 2015, "The Con of the Con Con," laying out his concerns.

Biggs wrote that if people believe the Constitution is fallible, "how do you know that the remedy you rely on, Article V, is not flawed as well?"

The bottom line for many delegates is figuring out how to force Congress to cut the deficit.

"I think it's immoral and borderline criminal what we're doing to future generations of Americans," Indiana state Rep. Jim Lucas said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Small Business
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Apple unveils $999 iPhone X with facial recognition
Apple unveils $999 iPhone X with facial recognition
5:42PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Big holdup for borrowers claiming for-profit college fraud
Education Department holding up decisions on claims of fraud against for-profit college student fraud
5:39PM ( 19 minutes ago )
The Latest: Death toll in Florida increases to 12
State officials are raising the number of deaths in Florida from Hurricane Irma to 12 from the previous seven. That brings the total death toll in all areas affected by the storm to 55
5:37PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Rich donor's girlfriends testify at Menendez bribery trial
The bribery trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez has focused on visas Menendez helped get for the former girlfriends of a wealthy donor
5:22PM ( 36 minutes ago )
US moves to help locate unexploded bombs in Mosul
A top American military commander is declassifying 81 locations of unexploded bombs dropped by the U.S.-led coalition in the battle to oust Islamic State militants from the Iraqi city of Mosul.
5:18PM ( 39 minutes ago )
US: 2 more Americans were affected by Cuba health attacks
The United States says another two Americans were affected by mysterious incidents in Cuba that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called "health attacks" on U.S. diplomats
5:07PM ( 50 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: GOP ponders tax overhaul's effect on deficit
Senate Republicans are struggling with how many billions of dollars President Donald Trump's tax code overhaul will add to the deficit as they work on a GOP budget plan that's a prerequisite to any far-reaching change in the nation's tax system
4:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP, other media sue for info from Washington state lawmakers
A coalition of news organizations led by The Associated Press is suing the Washington Legislature over its assertion that state lawmakers aren't required to turn over calendars, text messages and other materials related to their work
3:40PM ( 2 hours ago )
Mnuchin says he's still hopeful for tax bill by year's end
Mnuchin says he hopes Congress can still pass major tax overhaul before end of this year
12:26PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Without air conditioning, steamy Florida yearns for power
In a state built on air-conditioning, millions of Florida residents want to know: When will the power be back?
5:22PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Danica Patrick done at Stewart-Haas after '17, future unsure
Danica Patrick is done at Stewart-Haas Racing over sponsorship issues
5:18PM ( 41 minutes ago )
The Latest: Apple may bring facial recognition to mainstream
Apple watchers say the company's new Face ID technology could help revolutionize facial recognition and bring it to the mainstream
4:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Protests over French labor overhaul grip Paris, other cities
The Eiffel Tower saw service cutbacks, angry carnival workers snarled traffic around the Arc de Triomphe and police used water cannon and tear gas as unions held protests in Paris and elsewhere against planned changes to French labor laws
3:41PM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump: North Korea sanctions 'small step,' warns of more
President Donald Trump says new U.N. sanctions "are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen" to stop North Korea's nuclear march
3:29PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Eiffel Tower reduces service amid Paris protests
The Eiffel Tower had to reduce service amid a day of union-organized protests against President Emmanuel Macron's proposed changes to France's labor laws
1:01PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
North Korea relief sustains momentum in global markets
Global stock markets remained firm Tuesday as fears over an escalation in tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continued to subside even though the United Nations slapped further sanctions on Pyongyang.
8:02AM ( 9 hours ago )
Global stocks mostly rise as Irma, North Korea worries fade
Global shares are mostly higher, encouraged by optimism on Wall Street as Hurricane Irma weakened and made way for recovery efforts and a North Korean holiday passed without new missile launches
4:19AM ( 13 hours ago )
Asia stocks mostly rise as Irma and North Korea worries fade
Asian shares were mostly higher, encouraged by optimism on Wall Street as Hurricane Irma weakened and made way for recovery efforts and a North Korean holiday passed without new missile launches
3:48AM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Business - Financial Markets
Bikini baristas sue Washington city over dress code law
Seven bikini baristas and the owner of a chain of the coffee stands have sued a Washington city, saying two recently passed ordinances banning bare skin violate their right to free expression
7:45PM ( 22 hours ago )
Audit: US misuses taxpayer cash for California water project
A federal audit says the U.S. government improperly contributed tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to help California water districts plan for a massive project to ship the state's water from north to south
11:59PM ( 3 days ago )
APNewsBreak: US taxpayer money misused for water project
A federal audit says $84 million in U.S. taxpayer funds were used improperly for planning California water tunnel project
2:06PM ( 4 days ago )
AP Business - Small Business
Apple unveils $999 iPhone X with facial recognition
Apple unveils $999 iPhone X with facial recognition
5:42PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Big holdup for borrowers claiming for-profit college fraud
Education Department holding up decisions on claims of fraud against for-profit college student fraud
5:39PM ( 20 minutes ago )
The Latest: Death toll in Florida increases to 12
State officials are raising the number of deaths in Florida from Hurricane Irma to 12 from the previous seven. That brings the total death toll in all areas affected by the storm to 55
5:37PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Aleppo still badly scarred by war, months after rebel defeat
Eight months after Syrian government forces recaptured eastern Aleppo from the rebels, many scars remain throughout the city
5:36PM ( 23 minutes ago )
FEMA estimates 25 percent of Florida Keys homes are gone
Federal emergency officials are estimating 25 percent of the homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed by Hurricane Irma
5:26PM ( 32 minutes ago )