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‚Äôs 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 States marked with an (R) have since rescinded their calls.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
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