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Synergy: The Third of Four Unique Compact Features

The differences between the Compact approach to Article V and the “legacy” approaches to Article V can be captured in four categories: 1) Certainty; 2) Safety; 3) Synergy; and 4) Speed. As you will see, the Compact approach is truly “Article V 2.0.” Today’s topic is…


Some proponents of the legacy approach to Article V believe that the states are only eight or nine applications away from triggering the two-thirds convention call for a balanced budget amendment convention. In private discussions with the Author, they occasionally express the concern that legislative bandwidth would be wasted by adopting the Compact for a Balanced Budget when a state has already applied for such a convention. They are mistaken.

The Compact for a Balanced Budget is not redundant because it rolls up into one legislative action all of the state-enacted stages of the Article V process—including the appointment of delegates, the specification of convention rules and logistics, and the recommitment to ratifying a specified amendment. Therefore, the Compact requires less overall legislative bandwidth to achieve its ultimate goal of a ratified federal Balanced Budget Amendment than continuing with the legacy approach to Article V even in states that have already passed an application. If legislative bandwidth is truly the concern, the Compact approach is the more efficient amendment vehicle.

But there is no need for a binary choice to be made between the legacy approach and the Compact approach to Article V. This is because the successful passage of the Compact works synergistically with any legacy effort already undertaken. Each state that adopts the Compact pre-commits to ratifying the federal Balanced Budget Amendment it advances. If a legacy approach somehow succeeded in convening a convention before the Compact approach did, then the passage of the Compact bill would immediately supply that convention with a vetted federal Balanced Budget Amendment that is not only ready to be proposed, but which is already ratified in numerous states. The Compact approach thus enhances the efficiency and value of legacy Article V approaches even if the legacy approach were to organize a convention first despite the huge speed advantages of the Compact approach.

The bottom line is that if you want to maximize the chances of ratifying a federal Balanced Budget Amendment, you should support the Compact alongside other Article V efforts.

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