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Ohio Becomes 20th State to Call for Federal Balanced Budget Amendment

Yesterday, Governor John Kasich, Speaker Bill Batchelder and Senate President Keith Faber all signed letters to President Barack Obama, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and U.S. Senate Leader Harry Reid in support of Ohio Senate Joint Resolution 5—the Balanced Budget Amendment:

The letters will express the need for the amendment and highlight passage of Senate Joint Resolution 5, sponsored by Faber, calling for a convention on this topic.

Last week Ohio became the 20th state to join the call for a national convention when the General Assembly approved the resolution. It calls for federal government not to spend more money than it takes in, except in the event of a national emergency.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides that a convention would be held if 34 state legislatures ask for it. Any changes proposed for the constitution would still have to be ratified by 38 states to take effect.

This is a huge step toward reigning in the federal government, and forcing them to do what we’ve elected them to do: lead with fiscal restraint, not with constant handouts aimed at reelection.

And while we may be 14 states away from actually pulling off an Article V Convention, with Ohio will come several other states.  As the pacesetter in the Midwest, and a key state demographically on the national scale, Ohio is seen as a leader—other states were waiting to see what Ohio would do on this issue.

Ohio is leading, others will follow.

Just look at which states have already acted, and who is left on the board.  Moderate states like Colorado, Delaware and Pennsylvania have active resolutions.  Michigan is moving on their resolution.  States like Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and others are not far behind.

A quick glance at these remaining states shows promise—there’s more than a good chance that we can pick up the necessary 14 to call the convention.

And to assuage concerns about a “runaway convention,” I offer the following:

“I used to think, well, we’ll have a constitutional convention, the people today aren’t nearly as bright as our original Framers, and we’ll have this runaway convention and the change of the government.  There can be no runaway convention because three-fourths of the states still need to ratify [the amendments a convention proposes].”   Mark Levin, nationally syndicated radio host.

“Here is the bottom line for me.  When others warn about our losing our rights in a Constitutional Convention, my response is what rights do I have left to lose? I already have the government listening to my phone calls, reading my emails… and I have the IRS auditing us and sharing our financial information with other government agencies simply because we are critical of the government. What’s to lose?  To me it is simply a risk vs reward analysis. I think that we are where we are because our government is out of balance because the states have ceded so much of their rights and that of the people. If the states can gain some leverage over the Federal Government via a Constitutional Convention, I am all for it.” – Tom Zawistowski, Executive Director, Portage County TEA Party.

Simply put, there can be no runaway convention—the threshold for passing anything is too high for vigilant state legislatures to let anything slip by.

Those concerns alleviated, support for a balanced federal budget should be without qualification, so I was slightly taken aback by Zawistowski’s further commentary:

“I will tell you why I have not come out and asked you to support the Article V Convention directly. The fact that, out of the blue, Governor Kasich releases a statement in August saying he supports it, followed by Matt Huffman introducing a House Bill to support it a few weeks later in September, followed by a release from Bill Batchelder a few days after that, FOLLOWED by Keith Faber putting it up for a vote in the Senate in early October . . . makes me very nervous. This thing is clearly being orchastrated [sic] and is on the fastest track of anything I have ever seen. We know from experience that something fishy is going on and that is usually not good for us.  What that is, I don’t know. But this thing is being pushed through the legislature like you know what through a goose and it looks to me like the fix is in regardless of what we think.”

Zawistowski is a good person, and we agree on 95% of the issues, but Ohio’s resolution on the balanced budget has passed without any cause for doubt or alarm.  The text of the resolution has always been available online—what exactly could our elected leaders have done for someone to think something even remotely fishy was going on?

The truth of the matter is that this statement was made because of opposition to Medicaid Expansion.  Now, I get the disapproval of that move—we didn’t like the idea and opposed the method ourselves—but that’s one issue.  Letting disagreement on one policy position poison the well for everything else is not only bad public policy, it’s sour grapes.

If, in the future, Governor Kasich and legislative leaders push through Right to Work legislation, will folks like Zawistowski sit on the sidelines or oppose that?  What about the Heartbeat Bill?  Or the elimination of the state income tax?

We’re all grown-ups here, and the balanced budget amendment makes sense no matter how you slice it.  It’s time to put our prejudices aside and do what’s best for Ohio and the country.

For more information on how you can get involved in supporting the Balanced Budget movement, check out the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force at:

Let’s get this thing done and finally tell Washington that the credit card has been canceled.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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