How America’s Compact Restores a Proper Balance of Power Between Our State & Federal Governments
One of the foundational principles on which America’s Constitutional Republic would stand (or fall) upon involved the centralization of power. To prevent too high a concentration of power, our founders were very careful to create a proper balance of political power between our state and federal governments.
The logic being, if our state legislatures got off track, Congress could rein them in with Constitutional amendments. Likewise, if our federal legislators couldn’t be trusted to act under the rule of law, it would be possible for us-through our state representatives to harness Article V and “bind” them “down by the chains of the Constitution.”
“In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” ~Thomas Jefferson
This is the very reason for which our Constitution has two different avenues to propose Constitutional amendments: one for Congress, and the second for us through our state legislatures. Since America’s Compact for a balanced budget focuses on employing the second avenue to propose amendments to our Constitution, and this avenue to propose amendments has never been used before, many citizens wonder how the Compact will affect their states?
America’s Compact Will Restore a Proper Balance of Power Between Our State & Federal Governments
The Compact’s federal Balanced Budget Amendment repositions the states as a debt control board for the federal government. It provides that any increase in the federal debt limit imposed by the Amendment will require the approval of a majority of state legislatures. This position of control over future debt limit increases ensures that federal funding to the states is one of the last places Congress will look to make spending reductions. Even if the states deny as much borrowing capacity as Congress would like, as we expect, Congress will not want to bite the hand that feeds it.
By contrast, without the Compact’s federal Balanced Budget Amendment in place, we know that the current levels of debt spending are unsustainable. We are currently borrowing money to pay interest on borrowed money. Even at the current low interest rates, our interest payments are equal to more than 40% of discretionary spending. When interest rates normalize to levels nearly twice what they are, as they inevitably will with the full retirement of the baby boomer generation, interest payments on the federal debt could easily equal 80-100% of discretionary spending.
This means, without the Compact’s federal Balanced Budget Amendment in place, federal funding to the states will undoubtedly be one of the first places Congress will look to make spending cuts. This is because states don’t vote and people do.
Federal funding to the states is more secure with the Compact’s federal Balanced Budget Amendment in place than without. Indeed, to the very extent that the states use their position as a debt control board to rein in Washington’s unsustainable debt spending, is the exact extent to which Congress will not want to antagonize the states.
In the end, America’s Compact for a balanced budget is our best chance at restoring fiscal sanity and instituting a much needed balance of power between our state and federal governments.
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