Three Big Reasons to Amend the Constitution

Rule of Law

 Many Americans feel frustrated and harbor little hope that much can be done to change our country’s course. While these feelings are understandable, they are misguided. There is a way back.

The Framers of the Constitution were cognizant that their creation was not perfect and that changing circumstances in the future might require amendments that would go “hand in hand with the progress of the human mind”i as Jefferson put it. It therefore made sense to them to write Article V into the Constitution to allow for changes to be made. One reason changes might be necessary is if the National government became too large, oppressive, and abusive of the separation of powers. In that case, it would be up to the States to call for amendments by invoking the process in Article V of calling for an amendments convention.

Many have balked at amending the Constitution, grumbling about “runaway” conventions and dangerous amendments. A correct understanding of the process and history of Article V should quell most of these fears but I believe there is something more powerful that will help people to see past a few potential pitfalls: a clear vision of what the convention should produce. This is what I put forth in my new book “Rule of Law.” A vision gives us something to look to so that we can avoid the distraction of a thousand “what ifs?” Here are three central components of that vision:

First, restrain government spending. Since 2000, federal spending has more than doubled. Over the last few years the United States has spent more money than at any other point in our history during peace time. In the near future, our spending today will seem like couch change. By 2023, the federal government will be spending $800 billion a year on just interest payments on our debt. By 2030, Congress will be spending 30% of the country’s wealth. Combine that with State and local governments and politicians at all levels will be spending nearly half the country’s wealth in a little more than 15 years. The government’s own numbers reveal that each household owes nearly $500,000 over the next 75 years to cover future spending in addition to the taxes already projected to be paid. How much more could be saved for retirement, college, or to start a productive business without that spending? The economic evidence is irrefutable:ii government spending crowds out private sector investment and reduces growth. We desperately need a constitutional amendment which will limit how much Congress can spend.

Second, abolish the tax code and limit the power taxation. There isn’t a sane person in this country that doesn’t think that our tax code is a disaster. The 16th Amendment unwisely gave Congress an unlimited ability to tax our incomes and we are now paying the price for it. Businesses and individuals are fleeing the country in record numbers to avoid this unconscionable monstrosity. If we hope to remain a competitive force in the world then we must use the power of a constitutional amendment to send a clear message to the talent and wealth of the world that America is committed to being the land of opportunity and property rights it has always been. We need a system of taxes that invites, rather than repels, talent and wealth. Unfortunately, many among us cling to the irrational philosophy of envy which teaches that one person’s gain is another person’s loss. Only the force of a Constitutional amendment which caps at a percentage limit what government can tax will put the kibosh on destructive class warfare and punitive taxation.

Third, restrain the bureaucracy and rein in the executive branch. We have an executive that believes it has the power to create law. Nothing could be more offensive to sound government, liberty, and constitutional principle. In spite of the clear language of the Constitution, the Courts have stood by and allowed lawmakers to make more lawmakers, a power which no legislature has any right to hold. Accountability in government is only possible when the lawmaking authority is strictly confined to those who are chosen by the people. The Courts have also declared that the president is essentially above the law and cannot be subject to lawsuits (see Nixon v Fitzgerald). It should therefore be no surprise that an endless stream of scandals only end in a few congressional hearings and, if we are lucky, a report on “60 Minutes.” Few, if any, are ever held accountable. A Constitutional amendment which clarifies that only Congress can make law and that the president and his administration are subject to it will be the surest way to restore the vital separation of powers doctrine.

More than being informed about a process, the American people need to be shown the benefits of specific amendments to the Constitution. Only then will we reach the consensus needed to call a convention and make this vision a reality. These three components ought to be something that the vast majority of Americans can rally around. If we do not, then we will suffer the decline that every prosperous society before us has suffered. It doesn’t have to end that way.

i “The Real Thomas Jefferson (National Center for Constitutional Studies, 2008) 385

ii See chapter 9 of Dustin Romney, “Rule of Law: Why and How We Must Amend the Constitution,” 2014

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