It's Time to Swing for the Fences

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Is Compact for America a longshot?

It all depends on how you view the overall policy and political game.

Fighting for fiscally-responsible government as a steady-state in any political system is the ultimate longshot. And if we are going to pursue longshots like that, Compact for America believes we ought to at least put most of our chips on the biggest impact plays.

Simply put, there is nothing bigger than amending the Constitution.

So Compact for America says: Let’s swing for the fences because the truth is our batting average can’t get any worse than what we see in electoral politics or with incrementalist policy reforms.

But with the proper perspective, Compact for America has already succeeded and is highly likely to continue to succeed. Why do we say that?

  • If “success” is defined as organizing the states behind an interstate agency to check and balance Washington on fiscal policy, we’ve already succeeded with the formation of the Compact for a Balanced Budget Commission. It is populated by a real political superstar from Alaska-former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and by the toughest lady in the Georgia Assembly, Rep. Paulette Rakestraw. It will be joined by a representative of at least one more state after this session.

  • If “success” is defined as regularizing and institutionalizing the use of the amendment powers by the states so that the states learn to act like equal sovereigns and actually use their big amendment stick, we are almost there with the formation of the Compact Commission. The Compact approach to amending the constitution promises to dramatically equalize the balance of power between the States and Congress if we can just acclimate the states to using it. Imagine a Compact for a Gift Clause spinning up an interstate agency to confront Washington with an anti-subsidy amendment in the middle of the next bailout debate and vote. The institutionalization of this ultimate power over the federal government (amending the constitution) simply cannot be matched by any other political effort in the states even if all you want to do is influence the behavior of the folks we elect to Washington.

  • If “success” is defined as bringing sufficient numbers of states into the Compact so that the Compact for a Balanced Budget Commission looks like a new “New Hampshire” or at least influential on policy in a presidential election, the magic number for passage of Compact bills is anywhere between 10 to 30 member states.

  • If “success” means ratifying an amendment that can help fix the national debt, no doubt Congress will get jumpy and want to pre-empt the effort by proposing its own amendment when we get within striking distance of the end goal, which would be around 30 states. Historically, nearly half of the existing 27 constitutional amendments were proposed by Congress only after the states organized behind an Article V convention effort.

  • If “success” means restoring and protecting limited government and freedom against federal overreach, this effort bears a far greater chance of success than any other single think tank project by advancing and ratifying an amendment that fundamentally limits federal power.

And we’re not the only ones who believe that this is true.

We recently received a commitment of $100,000 from a donor who has expressed a willingness to contribute additional amounts if we can match his gift.

What inspired this generous commitment was our amazing productivity in the past 2 months.

Here is a brief recap of what we have accomplished over the past 2 months:

  • Oct. 3-Chip DeMoss (CEO of CFAEF) learns of IRS approval of 501c3 status for Compact for America Educational Foundation.

  • Oct. 9-Nick Dranias (then General Counsel & Constitutional Policy Director for the Goldwater Institute) joins Compact for America Educational Foundation.

  • Oct. 18-Jeff Utsch (Executive VP of Development at CFAEF) successfully draws 300 to 400 people, including Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, as well as Arizona Congressmen Paul Gosar and David Schweikert, to the Second Annual Liberty Amendment dinner for an all-day symposium.

  • Oct. 28/Nov. 12-Alabama and Ohio were introduced to the Compact approach to Article V by Nick Dranias with “States Take Charge” speeches at local law schools.

  • Oct. 31-Washingon Post published a letter to the editor making the point that there is no left-right divide on Article V, signed by Nick Dranias and Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, and committing Lessig to the view that states are in charge.

  • Nov. 2-National Constitution Center published a continuation of WaPo piece by Prof. Lessig and Dranias.

  • Nov. 8-Compact for America Council of Scholars member and Cato Institute senior fellow Ilya Shapiro tangled with Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs at a closed Tea Party Patriots debate in Washington DC.

  • Nov. 13-The Times Herald published: Dranias op-ed, “Fed Up With the Political Class' Cash Machine? Balance the Budget.”

  • Nov. 13-Dranias debated what appears to be a newly organized John Birch Society entity, the “Patriot Coalition,” at the Arizona State Capitol.

  • Nov. 15-Dranias went head-to-head with the Article V opposition in a debate against Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs.

  • Nov. 20-The Compact for a Balanced Budget’s interstate Commission went “live” with Alaska Governor Sean Parnell’s appointment of Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell.

  • Dec. 5-We educated dozens of policy makers, analysts and academics at ALEC’s annual Federal and State conference (American Legislative Exchange Council) in Washington, DC during our workshop “Compact for a Balanced Budget Now!”

  • Dec. 5-Compact for America hosted the historic pre-organizational meeting of Compact for a Balanced Budget Commissioners Mead Treadwell (Alaska) and Paulette Rakestraw (Georgia) in Washington, DC.

  • Dec. 8 and 9-We furnished breakfast and lunch briefings for dozens of policy makers, analysts and academics during our Naval Heritage Center Breakfast and Lunch, which was co-sponsored by Grover Norquist’s ATR and also CEI (Competitive Enterprise Institute). These briefings were positioned to bookend the ASL Article V meeting (Assembly of State Legislatures), to ensure an engaged audience.

  • Dec. 11-Dranias debated Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities at NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) before a bi-partisan legislative and policy audience.

  • Dec. 15-Dranias presented his lecture, “States Take Charge” sponsored by the North Carolina Federalist Society/John Locke Foundation, and the speech draws a packed house of 50-60 attendees.

  • Dec. 16-Forbes published George Leef’s column, “Could Compact for America's Constitutional Amendment Stop the Federal Juggernaut?”

  • Dec. 17-Lockwood Phillips Syndicated Talk Radio interviews Dranias on the Compact for a Balanced Budget.

  • Thomas C. Patterson, immediate past Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, joined the Compact for America Educational Foundation as its Chairman of the Board.

  • Lawrence Reed of the Foundation for Economic Education, Dean Clancy former Vice President of Policy at FreedomWorks, and Steve Slivinski of the Goldwater Institute joined the Educational Foundation’s Council of Scholars.

  • Arkansas Representative Nate Bell, North Dakota Senator and National Debt Relief Amendment Spokesman Curtis Olafson (ret.), Arizona’s Scott O’Connor, and Compact Commissioner Paulette Rakestraw joined our c4’s Advisory Council.

  • Legislators have offered to sponsor the Compact for a Balanced Budget in eleven states and significant sponsorship interest exists in nine more states, which require certainty in resources to consummate.

  • Bills have been dropped or drafted in Arizona, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Texas.

  • The necessary Congressional resolution has been drafted by legislative counsel. We have met with Congressional Research Service to vet and report on the legislation.

  • We secured Congressman Paul Gosar as our prime congressional sponsor.

  • We met with the principals or staff of the Offices of Sens. Mike Lee, John Cornyn, Rand Paul, and Reps. Paul Ryan, Lamar Smith, and Trey Gowdy, to expand support for advancing the Congressional resolution that activates the Compact.

Now that we’ve pushed the snowball to the edge of the hilltop, we need to raise significantly more funds to get the job done.

To seize the resulting opportunities of the past two months, we need to raise another $650,000 before May 2015, of which we really need to raise another $275,000 by December 31 to make necessary planning commitments.

We can do a lot with less, but we would lose many of the opportunities the past 2 months have generated if we don’t raise at least this much.

We're hopeful that as you noodle this blog, you will think of ways that you can help.

Obviously, a donation in a like amount to that of our generous benefactor would be appreciated, but organizing a fundraising event with invitations to members of your giving network would be welcome too.

Your support is crucial to securing further success.

A quick and easy way to make a tax deductible donation is to contribute to our “Balance the Budget Now" Campaign.

#compactforabalancedbudgetpitch #compactfundraising

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