A couple of weeks ago when we got the returns for the new health care bill, I felt physically ill. It was that noxious feeling of dread. I’m sure there was a significant portion of the population that was elated as well but I tend to believe that a lot more felt the way I did versus elation.
I’ve been thinking a long time what the answer to the recent health care bill and the overall runaway spending. According to the New York Times, Obama is on track to triple the national debt to 90% of GDP. This is simply unsustainable. We are on a collision course with the collapse of the American economy. What happens when your family consistently spends more than it makes? We call that bankruptcy. Fortunately bankruptcy is an escape for a person or a family but there’s no such option for a nation. Technically a nation can just declare that they will not pay their debts but this has only ever happened in connection with a collapse of that nation’s economy. Do we really want to go there?
We’re left now with limited options. I believe there are two main things we can do at this point to prevent this runaway train from jumping the tracks and rocketing off a cliff.
- First, to address the spending issue, we have to pass a balanced budget amendment. This is the only way we can keep spending under control. Congress has proven that it can not be fiscally responsible. Even if we could convince the current Congress to balance the budget, there’s no guarantee that any future Congress would do the same. We have to tie their hands. Every state has to work within the confines of a balanced budget and so should the Federal Government.
Now the chances of passing a balanced budget amendment with this Congress is between slim and none. Most people don’t know this but there is more than one way to amend the Constitution. The first way is to have Congress propose the amendment and pass it with a 2/3 vote. It then must be ratified by 3/4 of the states. This is the only way it has ever been done in the past. The Framers wanted a protection against an out-of-control oppressive Federal government. In Article V of the constitution it allows for 2/3 of states to request a constitutional convention. If this happens, Congress is obligated to call the convention and then they have no say in the proceedings thereafter. In the convention an amendment can be proposed and voted for. If it passes the convention then it must be ratified by 3/4 of the states to become law. This has never been done before but it’s come close. Usually when it comes close, it spurs Congress to preemptively pass an amendment first such as happened with the 21st Amendment or pass a law that appeases the states like happened in the 80′s with the last efforts to have a balanced budget amendment. Congress passed a law that said the budget must be balanced by 1991. Of course it never happened.
This is what the states must do in order to compel Congress to grow up and become responsible stewards of the public trust. If Congress won’t do it themselves, we must make them do it.
- The second thing is to address the Obama health care plan. At this point “Obamacare” is the law of the land. There are 13 Attorney Generals participating in a lawsuit to fight the law, but the best they’ll be able to do is get bits and pieces struck out but the plan over all will be in force.
Again, in this situation it’s up to the states to exercise their Tenth Amendment rights. Every state that opposes “Obamacare” needs to exercise their right of nullification. Nullification is when a state legislature passes a law that basically says that they feel the law is unconstitutional and therefore is nullified in their state meaning it has no force within their borders. There are several examples in history where a state has exercised its right to nullify a law.
In 1738 James Madison and Thomas Jefferson authored resolutions in Virginia and Kentucky in response to the Alien and Sedition Act stating that their states would resist any attempt of the Federal government to encroach upon their states’ powers.
In 1798, the legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky approved resolutions that affirmed the states’ right to resist federal encroachments on their powers. If the federal government has the exclusive right to judge the extent of its own powers, warned the resolutions’ authors (James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, respectively), it will continue to grow – regardless of elections, the separation of powers, and other much-touted limits on government power. The Virginia Resolutions spoke of the states’ right to “interpose” between the federal government and the people of the state; the Kentucky Resolutions (in a 1799 follow-up to the original resolutions) used the term “nullification” – the states, they said, could nullify unconstitutional federal laws. (Tenth Amendment Center)
According to James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, they considered the states, not the Supreme Court, as the final arbiter as to what is constitutional and what is not.
In 1807 to 1809 nullification was used in Massachusetts and New York to oppose an embargo the United States had against Great Britain and France.
In 1812 Massachusetts and Connecticut used nullification to resist the President’s call for the use of its militia for the purpose of defending the coast.
In 1850 several northern states used nullification to oppose the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 which put all runaway slave cases in federal jurisdiction and required bystanders to help capture the slave.
It’s time to use nullification again to protect our rights as Americans and oppose our federal government’s oppressiveness.
I wrote the following letter and sent it to my state representative. I also sent a similar copy to my state senator and the governor. I’ll post any replies that I get.
Joshua B Ferguson
2502 West 1325 North
Layton, UT 84041
To: Representative Douglas C. Aagard
A lot has happened in the past year to our nation since President Obama took office. Spending is out of control in Congress. Some of the excessive spending was admittedly done under the Republican controlled Congress and under President George W. Bush, but it pales in comparison to the expensive agenda taken up by those currently in power. Likewise, the recent passing of the health care bill with seeming blatant disregard to the will of the American people feels like the last straw.
Republican representatives and Senators seem to be unable to do anything about this and Democratic representatives and Senators are unwilling to. This is why I’m directing my comments to you as my state representative. I believe that there is only one way to bring the Federal Government back in line with the people and the constitution and that is for the individual states to make a stand based on the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution. I am aware that Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has joined with other states in the lawsuit against Heath Care but this can only have limited success. I want to know what else you and the great State of Utah are planning on doing to rein in the out-of-control spending and the erosion of our rights as Americans.
I have two suggestions as to what Utah along with other States in the Union can do to prevent the runaway Federal Government.
1. To address the spending issue that will likely break the back of the American economy, we need a new amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget. We have learned by sad experience that the government is incapable of living within its means. After over 200 years to get it right, we finally need to tie their hands with a constitutional amendment. Because of the nature of a democratically elected Congress, we can never be sure of the fiscal responsibility of any given Congress so we need to require it of them.
Unfortunately, there is very little chance of any Congress doing this willingly. Therefore the states need to coordinate with other states and request an Article V Convention on the subject of a Balanced Budget Amendment. I believe there are 34 states that would be willing to do this. This has been attempted over 700 times but has never successfully acquired enough requests. I believe that this issue has a good chance to be successful. It fell by only 2 states last time a balanced budget amendment was attempted in this way in the 1980′s.
2. To address the recently passed health bill (dubbed “Obamacare”), the State of Utah needs to exercise its state right of nullification. The Utah legislature needs to pass a law stating that the health bill is nullified and not in force within the borders of our state. This has been done in the past and can be exercised at any time that the state determines that the Federal Government has overstepped its constitutionally granted powers. In the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison argued that nullification, not the Supreme Court, has the final say in the constitutionality of any law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nullification_(U.S._Constitution)).
Sir, I would love to hear your position on what you think should be done to address these important issues that our nation faces today and what you plan to do as my representative.
Joshua B. Ferguson