People often talk about the federal government as if it is set in a bubble removed from time and space, existing outside of the influence of the people. It is often forgotten that this government is made up of people selected from the public and that its authority is derived only from the consent of the citizens.  Over time, this mindset has led to government power creeping completely out of control. Frustratingly for many Americans, we are now at a tipping point where the public can quite literally no longer afford to live this way.

On June 18th the Congressional Budget Office published their budget outlook. Their outlook is a report based on “projections of what the federal budget and the economy would like in the current year and over the next 10 years” if current fiscal policy and spending remain constant.

The outlook is bleak.

According to projections, by 2034, deficits are expected to be nearly twice the average deficit of the last 50 years. The debt held by the public is to increase from 99%, as it stands now, to 122% in 2034, dwarfing the previous high-water mark of 106% in 1946. Economic growth is projected to slow from 3.1% in 2023 to 2% in 2024 and continue to shrink to 1.8% in 2026.

Much of the debt, deficit, and slow growth have been attributed to a dysfunctional political environment in Washington D.C., the lack of any meaningful national-level tax and expenditure limit, and cronyism run amok. As damaging and desperate as these far away things have been, we, the people, must remember that citizens are not without recourse.

There are mechanisms in the U.S. Constitution that allow for the people to rein in the federal government, one of which is the Article V Convention of States. When 2/3s of the states apply for a convention, proposals can be submitted to amend the Constitution. These proposed amendments can begin alleviating the problems caused by government overreach by properly defining the roles that each branch of the federal government should play in relation to each other and balance the relationship between the several states and the federal government.

An example of what these proposals could look like come from Governor Abbott’s Texas Plan, a reference to the Great Compromise which resulted from combining elements of Virginia and New Jersy Plans during the first Constitutional Convention.

A few of the Governor’s proposals were:

  1. Require Congress to balance its budget.
  2. Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from creating federal law.
  3. Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from preempting state law.
  4. Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
  5. Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
  6. Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a federal law or regulation.

To be fair, there are some concerned about a convention that could alter the Constitution in ways that would restrict Americans’ freedoms. However, the amendment process is a check to such a runaway convention. First, as mentioned previously, 2/3s of the states have to agree to have a convention at all. Then, delegates have to agree to proposals made at the convention. Those proposals are then sent back to the states and either considered in the state legislature or on a ballot presented directly to voters. Finally, 3/4s of the states have to agree on a proposal before the Constitution can be amended. The number of checks that must be overcome would make unsavory proposals extremely unlikely to be added to our Constitution.

By nature, government power will creep down any avenue not restricted by the people. Federal power, like a river left to its own devices, can swell beyond its banks and become destructive. Fortunately, it can also be dammed up to serve the needs of the people.