Return to a Limited Government, Step 1

Thomas Jefferson

I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared ~ Thomas Jefferson

Mike Lee is challenging Bob Bennett for his senate seat. Lee’s website clearly defines his stance on a variety of issues, with the emphasis on Five Steps to a Return to Limited Government. In the next several days I will be discussing each of these five steps, examining them on their merits.

Step 1: End Deficit Spending

Mike Lee’s proposal:

“Deficit spending facilitates the continuing growth of the federal government. It is far too tempting to shift the cost of today’s federal expansion to future generations. Until we require Congress to operate under a balanced budget, that expansion will continue. A balanced budget amendment is essential to restoring the original, proper role of the federal overnment.”

There are two parts to this proposal:

  1. The problem: Deficit spending.
  2. The solution: A balanced budget amendment.

Growth of the federal government is not necessarily a problem, especially with a growing population. It is when the growth is funded with borrowed dollars, allowing federal intrusion into areas that should be reserved to the states, or to the people.

Balanced Budget Amendment

I am with Mike on the need for a balanced budget amendment. I would also add a presidential line-item veto, which many state governors already have.

What are the chances of enactment of a balanced budget amendment? Through the amendment process. Article V of the Constitution specifies two methods to add amendments.

  1. Two-thirds (290) of the House and two-thirds (67) of the Senate propose an amendment. Three-fourths (38) of the states ratify it.
  2. Two-thirds (34) of the states call for a constitutional convention. Three-fourths (38) of the states ratify the convention’s proposed amendments.

There is already a call for a constitutional convention in progress. In the mid 1970s a movement began for the purpose of drafting a balanced-budget amendment by Constitutional Convention. By 1983, 32 of the needed 34 state legislatures had asked Congress to call a convention.

These are the states. States marked with an (R) have since rescinded their calls.

Alabama (R)
Arizona (R)
Florida (R)
Georgia (R)
Idaho (R)
Louisiana (R)
New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota (R)
S. Carolina (R)
South Dakota
Utah (R)
Virginia (R)

Some say that the rescissions are not valid and that the calls cannot be overridden. This view includes even some opposed to calls for a constitutional convention. However, this is far from settled. Although I am in favor of a constitutional convention to get a balanced budget amendment, I can see that in the end the rescissions will have to be upheld.


With popular support, the people could pressure congress to begin the amendment process, which alleviates the necessity of a risky constitutional convention. My grade for this proposal is only 3 out of 5 because the chances of ever getting a balanced budget amendment are rather slim.

What do you the people say?

Next Time

Mike Lee’s Step 2: Strengthen National Security, But Stop Nation-Building
Rickety signature.


  1. The author discusses two points regarding a convention. First of all he is in error as to his figures regarding Balanced Budget applications. The public record shows that 36 states have submitted applications for a convention call regarding balanced budget. The Constitution mandates a convention call based on a simple numeric count of applying states with no other terms or conditions which includes same subject. States cannot propose amendments; only a convention or Congress can. Thus, the purpose of a convention application is to cause Congress to call a convention not propose an amendment. The reason is obvious. If states could propose they could simultaneously ratify meaning they would have complete control of the Constitution. The public record shows all 50 states have submitted 750 applications for an Article V Convention call. The applications can be read at

    What those who favor a same subject interpretation of the Constitution often ignore is that if their interpretation is correct, which the government has admitted it is not, then each subject must be added to those applications of the states that applied but have not specified a subject in their application. Thus, if state A asks for a specific subject and states B,C and D ask simply for a convention, A must be added to B,C and D to arrive at the total number of applications as it is presumed that states B,C and D will accept any subject at a convention.

    As to rescissions. The Supreme Court has ruled twice that Article V is a “what you see is what you get” part of the Constitution. This means there are no interpretation or construction allowed with its words. Thus, as Article V does not allow rescissions, they do not exist. Moreover a simple example should prove why this is so. Anyone reading Article V clearly can see it is a single, if long, sentence. To assume a state has the power of rescission means that if it has that power for application, it must also have it for ratification. Hence, it follows that if a state can rescind an application vote (for in reality that is what we are discussing here) then it can also rescind a ratification vote. If so, then while the effect of rescinding an application may have little or no effect on a convention application, the power of rescission on ratification could be devastating.

    If a state can rescind its ratification vote, and given there can never be “extra” states as the Constitution mandates a proposed amendment become “part of the Constitution” if 3/4ths of the states ratify the proposal which means when the 3/4th vote is achieved, any other ratification effort ends, then a single state could, if it chose to do so, rescind its ratification vote on any amendment (or the Constitution as a whole in the case of the 13 original states) it had made thus terminating that amendment as it no longer had the required 3/4th vote to remain part of the Constitution. Thus, the Constitution would be in a constant state of flux with no one knowing exactly which parts of the Constitution, if any, were valid and in force and realizing that all times any part relied upon could be rescinded by a state.

    By the same token, the principle of rescission is invalid for votes in Congress. If so, then a member of Congress could rescind their decision of vote after the law takes effect thus nullifying it; judges could rescind their decisions (without anyone taking a new legal action to so request) months or years later with untold damage to the parties involved and elections would become meaningless as voters would be able to rescind their votes after the election and simply by such action determine another candidate, other than the one originally elected, was to hold office.

    It is for these reasons the principle of rescission of vote is not permitted.

    • One could ask, if you claim that there are sufficient calls for a convention, why hasn’t a convention been called? Would not those states that have made the call protest? If the states were sufficiently motivated to call for a convention why are they not motivated to follow through?

      I would think it is because there are other interpretations out there that have merit. I rather think that a dominant interpretation is that the calls are grouped by subject. Also the question of rescission is interesting. If a state thinks it has rescinded, it will behave as if it has. Hence it would be very difficult to make a state attend a convention when it doesn’t want to.

      First, who is going to make it attend? The federal government? Hardly, for they do not want the convention in the first place. Other states? No, for they have no power to force a recalcitrant party.

      And so in life, even if you are correct, you do not always get your way. For you must convince sufficient numbers that you are indeed correct. Not only that, you must convince sufficiently that action should be taken.

      However, I looked over your website, which has a lot of information. If I can figure out those other four states you mentioned I will add them to my list. Other websites go no higher than 32, it is strange that they do not match yours.

      So, I do not think we will ever see another constitutional convention, unfortunately, because too many states would have to agree at the same time. I that is not happening.

  2. You stated: “One could ask, if you claim that there are sufficient calls for a convention, why hasn’t a convention been called?”

    The answer is because Congress has refused to obey the Constitution. Article V mandates that Congress call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendmentS by delegates. There are at least 750 applications in the queue; select any 34 and you have a sufficient quantity.

    The oath of office taken when becoming a senator states they will obey the Constitution — a distinct part of the Constitution is Article V. They simply can’t cherry-pick the parts of the Constitution they will obey — they MUST obey all of the Constitution! Each member of Congress is therefore in criminal violation of their oath of office, as stated by the Solicitor General of the United States. Is MIKE LEE aware of this?

    Gordie Hayduk
    Veteran, Voter and Mayflower Descendent

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