On the same day the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an analysis of President Obama’s 2013 budget — which shows deficits will grow by $6.4 trillion in the next decade, nearly double what the CBO expected — a North Dakota state legislator said America’s debt problem has become unsustainable and immediate action is needed.
“It’s a crisis,” North Dakota State Senator Curtis Olafson said on Friday of the more than $15.5 trillion federal debt in an exclusive interview with Big 3 News. “We are about to go over a financial cliff.”
As a remedy, Olafson believes an increase in the federal debt should be approved by a majority of the state legislatures. To do that, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution would be needed using a tool provided by the founding fathers known as Article V.
“It is the only option we have left,” Olafson said. “Congress will not reform itself. It is totally up to the state legislatures to bring this federal debt crisis under control.”
“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments…” – Article V, U.S. Constitution.
Olafson, who is the national spokesman for a Texas non-profit corporation called Restoring Freedom.org, has championed the idea of a National Debt Relief Amendment (NDRA) in his home state where a resolution in support of it was passed by the legislature. He is passionate about the issue — leaving his family and business behind to travel around the country and promote the Amendment.
“It has subsequently passed in Louisiana, and as of today we have committed prime sponsors in an additional 23 states,” Olafson said. “We would need to have 34 states that would pass the resolution in both chambers, in order to compel Congress to convene an Article V amendments convention.”
The National Debt Relief Amendment is a “powerful” 18-word amendment that supporters say will “rein in an out-of-control federal government” by containing the growth in federal debt and enforcing budget discipline. Olafson said they are looking across political party lines for primary sponsors and support in more states.
“We are promoting the National Debt Relief Amendment as a non-partisan effort for the simple reason that the federal debt is a non-partisan issue,” Olafson explained. “It was created under the control of both parties, the federal debt has increased under the control of both parties, and it is a bi-partisan problem that will require bi-partisan solutions.”
An indication of the support the Amendment has received was best displayed in Louisiana, where the House passed the resolution on a unanimous vote.
“No matter where you are on the political spectrum, the National Debt Relief Amendment will give rank-and-file citizens a voice in the decision-making process of increasing the federal debt,” Olafson said.
The U.S. Constitution, under Article V, provides a convention process for both Congress and the states to propose amendments to it. It requires approval by two thirds of both Houses of Congress, or by application to Congress by two thirds, or 34, of the states. After a convention is held for an amendment issue and before it can be adopted to the Constitution, it would need to be ratified by three-fourths, or 38, of the states.
On Jan. 18, the National Debt Relief Amendment was introduced in the U.S. Congress by Arizona Representative David Schweikert for consideration. While the move was welcomed by Olafson, he is realistic that it will be difficult to get Congress to vote to limit their own ability to borrow and spend money.
“That ability, that unfettered ability to borrow and spend money, is what empowers them politically and it is what guarantees their continued tenure in Congress,” Olafson said.
Olafson said the Congressional proposal will not deter the state-initiated efforts by Restoring Freedom.org.
“We have a train that is going down the tracks, and we are not going to back off the throttle on the locomotive,” Olafson said. “We are going to continue to move forward full bore with our effort.”
In Ohio, a joint resolution has been introduced in the legislature by State Representative Ron Magg (R-35th House District) with seven co-sponsors. The next hearing on it is scheduled for Mar. 27.
Magg is described by Olafson as “one of the very best” prime sponsors of the NDRA throughout the country.
“He has done a superb job of laying the groundwork to secure successful passage of the National Debt Relief Amendment,” Olafson said. “The citizens of Ohio should be very proud of Representative Ron Magg for taking this issue on.”
Citizens across the nation can call their state legislators and encourage them to sign on as a primary sponsor and help get other legislators to support it to reach 34 or more states.
“If the states really want it, 34 states convene a convention. And if 38 states want to ratify it (the amendment), Congress can’t stop, the President can’t stop it, and the governors can’t stop it.”
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