Thanks to the perseverance and foresight of the members of the 64th Wyoming Legislature and Gov. Matt Mead, Wyoming has become the 29th state to pass a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of enacting a Balanced Budget Amendment to our U.S. Constitution.
Many individuals and organizations are to be credited for this crucial piece of legislation. Loren Enns quit his job and, at his own expense, repeatedly crisscrossed our state explaining the process and answering questions. Loren is currently visiting and networking in other western states.
Committee chairs, the chief sponsors of the resolution in the House and Senate, along with a number of additional legislators, House and Senate leadership, Gov. Mead, Secretary of State Ed Murray and countless Wyoming citizens are all to be commended for their positive support in bringing this measure to fruition.
Considering the impact of this resolution for our nation, it is indeed perplexing why the passage of HJR 2 was not reported in bold headlines in newspapers and media across our state – not even a blurb. Perhaps this is indicative of the general public’s lack of knowledge regarding our escalating national debt, which brings with it impending and disastrous consequences.
Fortunately, and with great foresight, our forefathers gave the states the privilege and the right to amend our United States Constitution. Article V, in part, states: On the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several States, (Congress) shall call a Convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution. The process is clearly laid out: Two-thirds (34) of the state legislatures much pass resolutions calling for a convention to propose a specific amendment; in this case the Balanced Budget Amendment. Then, Congress is mandated to set a time and place for the convention, and states then commission their delegations. After the amendment has been drafted and proposed, three-quarters of the states must ratify the amendment, and then it becomes a part of the Constitution.
Considering the runaway spending of our government, it is time for the states to be heard loud and clear. As U.S. Comptroller General David Walker said, “I would argue that the most serious threat to the United States is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan, but our own fiscal irresponsibility.” This is precisely why our Founding Fathers gave the states absolute power over Washington via the unilateral authority to amend our constitution.
Thomas Jefferson was probably the first to publicly call for a balanced budget when he wrote: “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment ... taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.” Ronald Reagan furthered the idea during his term in the White House when he stated: “... We are not saying we have a terrible problem and government must find a solution. We are saying government is the problem and the people have the solution – a constitutional amendment making a balanced budget the law of this land.”
Our national debt stands at almost $20 trillion. Go to the website bba4usa.org and watch, in amazement and horror, our debt as it escalates at such a fast rate it is difficult to report an exact figure. Any idea how much a trillion dollars is? According to the web, if you had spent a million dollars every DAY since Jesus was born, you would have not spent even $1 trillion by now! And our nation is nearly $20 trillion in debt! One trillion seconds ago was 30,000 B.C. Stack one trillion dollar bills and you’d have a stack 1,260 miles high. Pretty hard for the average citizen to grasp.
However, as a nation we must continue to pursue the passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment for our nation in order to take the first steps for reducing our national debt. Yes, it will take years and years to accomplish. Future generations will either be the benefactors of reining in our current road to bankruptcy or they will be the recipients of a bankrupt nation.
Politicians will pass away, but a Balanced Budget Amendment for our nation, just like the First, Second, Fourth and 10th amendments, will remain to protect all of us today and all future generations. What a gift to leave our children and grandchildren. A Balanced Budget Amendment will prevent Congress from bankrupting America, now and in the years ahead, thereby preserving our way of life, now and for the future.
Bill McIlvain is a Cheyenne resident, former speaker of Wyoming’s House of Representatives and a former teacher at Laramie County Community College.