George Will describes the Balanced Budget Amendment proposed by Alaska, Arizona and Georgia, and perhaps other states under Article V of the Constitution:
Total federal government outlays shall not exceed receipts unless the excess of outlays is financed exclusively by debt, which initially shall be authorized to be 105 percent of outstanding debt on the date the amendment is ratified. Congress may increase the authorized debt only if a majority of state legislatures approve an unconditional, single-subject measure proposing the amount of such increase. Whenever outstanding debt exceeds 98 percent of the set limit, the president shall designate for impoundment specific expenditures sufficient to keep debt below the authorized level. The impoundment shall occur in 30 days unless Congress designates an alternative impoundment of the same or greater amount. Any bill for a new or increased general revenue tax shall require a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress — except for a bill that reduces or eliminates an existing tax exemption, deduction or credit, or that “provides for a new end-user sales tax which would completely replace every existing income tax levied by” the U.S. government.
A balanced budget, a repeal of the income tax amendment, and something akin to the Fair Tax — all in one amendment? It sounds too good to be true, but I’m getting behind it, anyway. Because of this next bit:
Article V says Congress has no discretion — it “shall” call a convention “on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states.” A convention called in accordance with the institute’s compact would adopt its limited agenda with the force of federal and state law, any deviation from which would render the convention — which is limited to a 24-hour session — void. The compact designates as the sole delegates to the convention the governors of participating states, officials who will not run the political risk of wrecking the convention by ignoring the law.
I’m not saying an Article Five convention wouldn’t be without its risks, but we know with a cold certainty where the path leads that we’re already on.
Will says members of this “nascent movement” call themselves Fivers. Well, call me a Fiver, too.