Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Nick Dranias is with Compact for America. He is one of the brain trusts of that august body, which includes my friend Kevin Gutzman, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution and James Madison and the Making of America. Nick is on the line with us right now on the Dude Maker Hotline. Nick, how you doing, buddy? Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Speaking of federal Constitution versus national government, there’s a clause in the federal Constitution. It’s Article V. As Patrick Henry predicted in 1788, it will never be used. [mocking Henry] “There will never be an instance where enough states will agree to amend this government once it’s in force,” Henry said at the ratification convention in Virginia in June of 1788. Henry was right, although he did invoke Article V in November of 1788 and basically got James Madison so scared that Madison ran to Congress and demanded that they amend the Constitution, thus we have what we call the Bill of Rights. Article V has been threatened to be used ever since. It has never come to fruition. Maybe that’s going to change.
The folks that run the Goldwater Institute out in Arizona have this organization called the Compact for America. There is a big hoop-de-doo convention in Florida this weekend where those of you that are Tea Partiers can actually attend and hear a presentation about Compact for America’s balanced budget amendment, and can vote on whether or not Florida ought to join in calling for an Article V convention to force a balanced budget amendment to be added to the Constitution. Nick Dranias is with Compact for America. He is one of the brain trusts of that august body, which includes my friend Kevin Gutzman, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution and James Madison and the Making of America. Nick is on the line with us right now on the Dude Maker Hotline. Nick, how you doing, buddy?
Nick Dranias: Hey, Mike. I feel a lot better having my cell phone working properly. It’s great to be on. What we’re going to prove with Compact for America is that we can cut the number of legislative enactments needed for the process to work by over 60 percent, and make it possible to achieve a balanced budget amendment, a very powerful and unique version of a balanced budget amendment, within as few as 12 months.
Mike: Wow! What’s going on at the University of Central Florida this weekend?
Nick: What we’ve got going is a conference sponsored by a new organization called IM-American.org. Basically everybody who’s done anything in the field of urging states to use their ultimate power over the federal government under Article V to amend the Constitution, to organize the convention for proposing amendments. It includes myself, Rob Natelson, Senator Curtis Olafson, William Fruth, Congressman Webster, numerous other folks that I don’t want to keep listing because then I’ll miss them and I’ll make them upset. There are lots of great people who are going to be here conducting workshops. I’m giving two workshops, participating on one panel, giving one closing speech. The workshops are going to be really great because I’ll be able to explain the ins and outs of how states can amend the Constitution as well as Compact for America.
Mike: Was I correct that Henry predicted that Article V would never be used and that --
Nick: Absolutely, you are. You know what? Unfortunately there’s a lot of truth in that. If you looked at Article V -- just to familiarize everybody, states, in order to originate an amendment, two-thirds of the states have to apply to Congress. Congress has to make a call. The convention actually has to happen. They have to pass more laws sending in delegates. They have to actually propose something. They have to go back to Congress. Congress then has to refer it back out to the states and then three-fourths of the states have to ratify it. If you do that in the modern age, that’s over 100 pieces of legislation. Compact for America gives us just one compact, one agreement among the states. The 38 states join and one congressional resolution, just something that blesses the compact and calls a convention. That’s all we need. That’s 39 versus 100, 60 percent fewer. We finally have rebutted Patrick Henry’s famous anti-ratification speech at the Virginia Convention. We have devised a vehicle that basically makes this a turnkey process. We have everything built into the compact, all the rules, all the agenda, the text of the BBA itself, the instructions to the delegates. Everything is laid out turnkey fashion. In essence, what it looks like is kind of a ballot measure for the states.
Mike: Part of Compact for America and part of the reason you guys went through the trouble of doing all this -- and God bless the Goldwater Institute for instigating this. Part of the reason is because there was rabid opposition to any Article V Amendment Convention because it would turn out to be a con-con, as they called it. It would be a runaway convention. Nancy Pelosi would take it over. We would elect the grandson of Stalin as the new commissar and we’d end the Second Amendment and everyone would have to surrender their gold and their guns after everything was ratified. Of course, the John Birch Society were the chief promulgators of this. Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum was another group that was in rabid opposition to this. You have answered their concerns with Compact for America, right?
Nick: We have answered every one of their concerns. We’ve ladled in 16 individual safeguards to keep the process laser focused. In my gut, I still think they’re wrong and their risk aversion is intolerable given the risks of the status quo. I always say if you want a runaway convention, just look at Washington. The bottom line problem, I think, has been fixed. They now have to ask themselves: Is doing the same thing under the same circumstances over and over again the definition of insanity when we get the same results? Or are they going to try the ultimate failsafe that the founders intended us to use? In fact, it was the major selling point at the Virginia Convention against Patrick Henry.
Mike: Madison kept saying: No, we can get amendments. Amendments aren’t going to be that difficult to obtain. The process is pretty simple. It’s laid out in Article V. Mr. Henry is wrong. He’s just trying to thwart ratification. Of course, as we know, Henry was not wrong. Had there been a telegraph back then, and had New York and Virginia been able to communicate with one another, there wouldn’t have been a ratification without amendments. It wouldn’t have happened. We can talk about that on another day. Nick Dranias from Compact for America is on the Dude Maker Hotline. If someone wants to go to your convention tomorrow at Central Florida University, what do they do?
Nick: I’m not too familiar with Florida, but it’s one of the biggest universities. It’s in Orlando. It’s on an avenue called High Tech. I would also urge everybody to take a look at my Goldwater Institute report, my policy report. We just came out with it Thursday. It’s at GoldwaterInstitute.org/compactforamerica. Of course, the policy director and constitutional government guy at Goldwater, that policy report is important because we lay out every argument, policy, pragmatic and legal, in favor of Compact for America more conveniently than anyplace else you can get it. When you come down to the convention, I’ll also have hard copies of that. Again, it’s at the University of Central Florida. I think it has a campus of 20,000 kids. It’s in Orlando. Go to IM-American.org for specific logistics. It would be great to see you.
Mike: There are Tea Party groups that are attending this?
Nick: There are tons of Tea Party groups. We’ve got talk radio guys from Clear Channel involved. We’ve got congressmen. We’ve got scholars. The anticipation is that there will be several hundred participants. I would get in early. The festivities begin actually with the opening speech today at about 5:00 or 6:00. The real work begins tomorrow around 9:00.
Mike: Nick, Godspeed to you. Keep pushing the BBA. I keep pushing it here. Keep pushing Compact for America. Before you go, very briefly, in layman’s terms, none of that insider constitutional lawyer BS that no one understands --
Nick: Let me find somebody for you.
Mike: [laughing] What does the CFA, Compact for America, balanced budget amendment, what exactly does it do?
Nick: The most important thing is it puts the power to control the debt outside Washington. It puts it in the hands of a majority of state legislatures. The states become a board of directors that is taking control of an obvious problem area for our nation. It restores a huge chunk of the power the states once had when they controlled the Senate by proxy. That division of power, in our view, is fundamental to preventing the abuse of that, and indeed the concentration of power leads to a greater abuse of power that we’ve seen coming out of the federal government.
Mike: And the amendment reads something to the effect that Congress has 14 months to implement this. They cannot spend more than they believe they’re going to take in in any individual year without applying to the state legislatures for a majority vote to do so, right?
Nick: It’s actually more powerful than that. We’ve cracked the code on a genuine balanced budget. We don’t rely on estimates. We simply say you have a cash flow balance. Either you’re spending exactly as much as you pull in every moment of every day, or you have to rely on what we call a revolving line of credit that’s capped at a certain amount, and that amount will never change unless the states approve lifting that cap. The bottom line is we’re not going to allow for gaming through estimates that can be cooked. You’re either spending the money that’s coming in when it’s coming in or you’re capping a limited reserve of available debt to handle volatility and price of spending. That’s it. No other exceptions. The only way to get more borrowing money, if something truly dramatic or existential happened, is to come hat in hand from Washington out to the states and secure approval from 26 state legislatures.
The reason why we think that’s a huge and powerful move is that state legislatures are closer to the people. We will have access to our state capitals. The legislators that populate the legislatures are earlier in their careers. Their ambitions are more dependent on the will of the people. Polling, going back 30 years, consistently and resiliently shows that super majorities of American people on the left and the right demand a limit on debt and a balanced budget. It will be a hard push for those in Washington to go out into the states and secure approval for any increase in the debt if it’s not genuinely based on a national consensus.
Mike: Nick, you make a great case for it. As you know, I am a fan. I visited with you and Kevin and the board back in December on this. I’ve been talking about it ever since. I hope it all turns out fantastically Saturday. We will have many future discussions on this.
End Mike Church Show Transcript