There is a growing movement among limited-government activists who believe that a Constitutional Convention could solve many of America's balanced budget problems.
Some writers for BenSwann.com have been critical of a Constitutional Convention (Con Con) in the past (see here and here); the movement has evolved from theory into a growing movement. Many bills for a Con Con are being debated in state houses throughout America.
BenSwann.com's Joshua Cook spoke to Art Thompson, CEO of John Birch Society, about the problems with the Con Con (pro-Constitutional Convention) movement.
Cook said that he had friends on both sides of the debate who all want the government to be fiscally responsible, so what's wrong with those calling for a balanced budget amendment?
"The purpose of it is to rein in the government. So, I would ask the question, does the Constitution now rein in the government? And the answer, of course, is no. The problem is that it wouldn't matter if you have some change in the Constitution for the better. Would they pay any attention to that anymore than they do to the Constitution today?" asked Thompson.
"The problem is not the Constitution and having to make additions to the Constitution. The problem is adhering to the Constitution we have," Thompson said.
Thompson explained that he is all for a balanced budget, but he said standing between the government and a balanced budget are roadblocks.
"We say this, unless you repeal two amendments to the Constitution, it will be next to impossible to have a balanced budget," he said.
"Because what we used to have in this country was a system of checks and balances between the House and the Senate and the Executive, but once we got the 16th Amendment, the income tax, and once we got the 17th Amendment, the direct election of senators, that threw the whole system to a tailspin. And we've never recovered from it," he added.
"Most people do not understand the implications of those two amendments and how they have destroyed checks and balances between the states and the federal government," he said. "All you need to do is repeal them, and you'd have a balanced budget if we went back to the old system."
Thompson said that America's problems need fixing, but a Constitutional Convention movement is not the answer.
One of his issues with organizations, like Call A Convention, is the bipartisan nature of the group and the questionable sources of its funding.
"There has been tens of millions of dollars contributed to this campaign, and we don't know where it's coming from. In fact, when you take a look at the people involved and the organizations involved, there is more of a case that this is a leftist movement than a conservative movement," he said.
According to their website, Call A Convention's backers include conservative Mark Levin and Wolf PAC, an organization that has roots in the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Thompson said that there is no room for bipartisanship, because liberal and conservative philosophies are different.
"Bipartisanship has gotten us into the problem. Bipartisanship is another word for compromise in my book. You either stand for the Constitution or you don't," he explained. "The problem has been is that the conservatives always compromise with the left. And that compromise with the left has gotten us where we are today."
These bipartisan groups contain people with radically different viewpoints.
"Some of these people want to get rid of the 2nd Amendment, or if they can't get rid of it, to add a couple extra words that make it impossible for a citizen in the United States to have the right to keep and bear arms unless they belong to a state militia," he added.
Are those the type of people we want gathering to amend, or rewrite, our Constitution?
"Conservatives professing that all they want is a balanced budget, but they're in bed with some leftists who have a completely different agenda. That doesn't compute logically in my brain," he said.
Another issue is that the balanced budget amendment would be written during the convention.
"Now I've seen a number of balance budget proposals, not one of them would balance the budget," he explained.
One of the problems with the proposal is the Federal Reserve.
"You cannot balance the budget of the United States unless you take into account the Federal Reserve," he said. The Federal Reserve allows the government to spend money that it doesn't actually have.
"And yet the Federal Reserve can keep the presses rolling and they might do it in a way of currency exchanges, which is how they're bailing out Europe right now. They are sending palettes of $100 bills to Europe, and they're sending us back palettes of Euros. Now we don't spend the Euros. They're put in a basement someplace. But Europe spends the dollars," he explained.
"That to me, is not a balance. It's a whole unethical means of bailing out Europe," he said.
And we know the government has emergencies like this all of the time.
Another problem with the balanced budget proposals they don't account for how much money the federal government gives the states, many of which don't have their owned balanced budgets.
Thompson also suggests repealing departments and services that aren't Constitutionally backed. Those include things like Obamacare and departments of education and energy.
"All of those things are off budget, and yet those things are bankrupting this whole country," he said.
To pay for those unconstitutional agencies, taxes could be raised.
"If we don't repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments, a balanced budget will tax our economy to its knees."