By GREGORY N. HEIRES
As right-wing interests push for a constitutional convention in New York, a similar move is afoot around the country. But that effort has a different target: the U.S. Constitution.
Whether the goal is to change a state constitution or the nation’s constitution, the risk is the same: Government services along with our personal liberties, civil rights and right to bargain collectively could be put on the chopping block.
The anti-government American Legislative Exchange Council is working with state legislators on resolutions calling for a convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the states can convene a constitutional convention when two-thirds of the country’s 50 states pass resolutions in support of a Convention of the States. Supporters have managed to get the backing of 28 legislatures.
Right-wing institutions like ALEC have worked for years to amend the U.S. Constitution to promote their anti-government agenda. The institutions promoting the Convention of States Project are backed by the billionaire class, including the Koch brothers and Robert and Rebekah Mercer.
Their main goal is to approve a balanced budget amendment. Despite supporters’ claims that the amendment would guarantee fiscal prudence, the real purpose of the mandatory balanced budget is to strangle public services.
While supporters say a balanced budget amendment is necessary to curb out-of-control government spending, deficit spending actually helps the government provide a strong safety net and invest in needed infrastructure. President Barack Obama used deficit spending to get the country out of the Great Recession.
The Convention of States Project will undoubtedly push for additional anti-government amendments. Amendments drafted at the Project’s mock convention in September included abolishing the federal income tax and allowing the U.S. Congress to eliminate regulations.
In New York, similar forces backing this national effort are hell-bent on a runaway state convention where everything is up for grabs.
Our guaranteed pensions will be targeted. Public education, workers’ compensation, and the right to be a member of a union and collective bargaining are also in their crosshairs. This is why we urge you to vote “No” on the ballot question in the November elections on whether to hold a convention.
This previously appeared in the May 2017 issue of Public Employee Press.