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Want to Fix the Debt? Better Know the Truth.

As the cry for state leadership in fixing the national debt grows louder, there are those who have responded by reviving the 1970s and 80s effort to organize a convention of the states for proposing a federal Balanced Budget Amendment. This effort, led by the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force, is premised on the belief that there are 27 resolutions calling for a BBA convention—only 7 short of the magic number of 34 needed to form the Application that triggers Congress’s duty to call the convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution. There’s only one problem: the resolutions don’t add up, according to West Virginia trial attorney and appellate litigator Jeffrey Kimble. With far-reaching implications for balanced budget amendment supporters, Compact for America Educational Foundation Policy Brief No. 5, “The Elephant in the Room," reveals that most of the applying resolutions relied upon by the BBA Task Force have very significant differences. Those differences cannot be overlooked without disregarding the expressed intentions of most of the applying states. Does that mean that the Balanced Budget Amendment effort from the 1970s and 80s should be abandoned? Not necessarily. But it does mean that it is prudent to support the Compact for a Balanced Budget, which undoubtedly advances an identical applying resolution to trigger the call for a convention to propose a specific federal Balanced Budget Amendment—and that it would be unwise for anyone who is serious about fixing the national debt to put all of their eggs in the BBA Task Force basket. In fact, to avoid an unwise "either-or" choice and to ensure unity in the Balanced Budget Amendment movement, the Compact Commission for the Compact for a Balanced Budget has adopted the policy of encouraging state legislators to advance the BBA Task Force's latest resolution in the same legislation as the Balanced Budget Compact.

But you don’t have to accept the conclusion of attorney and author Jeffrey Kimble on faith. The report includes an appendix with copies of every application he examined.

You can decide for yourself how Congress might react if presented with them. As Will Rogers said, “It’s not what you know that gets you in trouble . . . it’s what you know that ain’t so.”


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