Martin L. Buchanan

Martin L. Buchanan

Local columnist

The federal government of the United States, whether led by national Republicans or national Democrats, is an out-of-control leviathan.

America seceded from Great Britain in the Revolution of 1776 to secure the blessings of liberty. It took a Civil War and multiple important reforms to include all Americans in those blessings.

The government designed and intended by our founders was a limited government, with specific functions assigned to the federal government, remaining government functions the responsibility of states and considerable liberties for the people guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

President Biden’s FY2022 budget and its proposed $1.8 trillion deficit continue the destruction of the American dream by exponential federal debt, a policy also followed by George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Biden continues the trend of making everything in our country the responsibility of the federal government, from pre-kindergarten to graduate school education, from your home mortgage to subsidizing businesses.

It is time to restore our federal government to its proper limited role by adding a Bill of Limits to our Constitution, the 28th to 39th amendments:

28. Total federal outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year, unless two-thirds of the whole number of each House of Congress in a roll-call vote shall provide by law for a specific excess of outlays over receipts for that year.

29. No person shall be a representative or senator who has already served 12 years or more in the Congress. Persons in office when this amendment is ratified may complete their current terms.

30. No person shall be elected or appointed to any office under the United States if such person will exceed the age of 80 years during their term of office. The terms of judges, of the Supreme Court and all inferior courts, shall end at age 80.

31. The powers of the federal government are limited to the specific powers explicitly enumerated in this Constitution. Those specific powers do not include promoting the general welfare.

32. The United States shall have additional enumerated powers to maintain a system of national parks, to provide income support for the elderly, and to provide health care for the elderly.

33. The United States and governments subject to the United States shall not provide pensions, post-employment lump-sum benefits, or post-employment health care except in the same manner available to all citizens or legal residents. Benefits accrued before this amendment is ratified may be provided. Additional reasonable benefits and health care for those injured in military service to the United States may be provided.

34. The United States shall not engage in war without a declaration of war by Congress, but the United States may defend and retaliate when attacked.

35. Congress’s power to tax income is limited to a maximum 25% marginal rate and a maximum 25% overall rate, considering all federal or federally-mandated taxes on income combined. The United States shall not tax property or wealth. The United States may tax or limit pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions, but shall not otherwise tax the sale of goods or services.

36. Officers, employees, and agents of the United States and governments subject to the United States shall bear full responsibility for their actions before the law and shall have no form of immunity.

37. The United States shall maintain the stable purchasing power of the dollar and any other currency it issues, and shall never inflate the dollar or any other currency issued or sanctioned by the United States. The people shall be free to use gold, silver, foreign currency, or any other physical or digital commodity as currencies in their private transactions.

38. The United States shall not grant money, lend money, subsidize loans, guarantee loans, or forgive debt to any persons, businesses, groups of persons, organizations, or governments subordinate to the United States, nor to any international organization, foreign government, or foreign person or entity, except as allowed by its explicitly enumerated powers.

39. All spending and financial commitments by the United States shall be immediately made public in digital form, except that up to 0.1% of spending may be withheld for national security reasons.

Would our Congress ever enact this Bill of Limits and send it to the states for ratification?

That is unlikely, meaning that the sole remedy for those of us who want limited government is a new Constitutional Convention, summoned by the legislatures of two-thirds of the states as described in Article V of the Constitution. If 34 or more states agree, a Constitutional Convention is convened, can propose and approve amendments, and those amendments are then submitted to all the states, of which three-fourths (38 or more) must approve for an amendment to take effect.

Thankfully there is already a yearslong active effort to call such a Convention to propose amendments “that will impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit its power and jurisdiction, and impose term limits on its officials and members of Congress.” The Convention of States ( has already gotten 15 states to call for a Constitutional Convention and several other states are considering the call.

Independent of any specific movement, organization, or political party, our federal government has become far too large. It is past time to rein it in. It is time for a Bill of Limits.

Martin L. Buchanan is a software developer and writer. Email:

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