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Balanced Budget Amendment and Constitutional Convention

WHEREAS:

Efforts are still being continued to convene a constitutional convention to consider an amendment requiring a balanced federal budget every year, and also to force Congress to pass a balanced budget constitutional amendment through the Congress. These efforts are being spearheaded by right wing interest groups with the active support of the Reagan Administration and the Senate Republican leadership; and

WHEREAS:

During the last eleven years, 32 states have passed some form of resolution petitioning Congress to convene a constitutional convention; and

WHEREAS:

Most constitutional scholars maintain that a convention could not be limited to a single issue. An endless number of emotional and divisive issues could be brought up in an open convention — repeal of the income tax, affirmative action and abortion, to name only a few. Such a proceeding would serve as a catalyst for demagogy of the worst kind; and

WHEREAS:

The constitutional convention that is being petitioned for would, at a minimum, reach into areas which are properly left to the legislative process. Such a convention, by writing particular social and economic policies into the U.S. Constitution, would infringe on the democratic right of American voters to choose between economic and social programs in elections; and

WHEREAS:

The attempt to mandate an annually balanced federal budget without regard to the condition of the U.S. economy is both politically and economically irresponsible. It is shameful that such an amendment is being vigorously supported by a President who has added one trillion dollars to the national debt and who has submitted a budget with deficits in excess of $200 billion; and

WHEREAS:

Deficits are occasionally necessary to stimulate the economy and to counter recessions, and as an econometric study commissioned by AFSCME has shown, the implementation of a balanced budget two years ago would have meant a continuation of recession; and

WHEREAS:

A balanced budget requirement would dangerously restrict the flexibility of the federal government's economic policy and would greatly reduce the government's ability to undertake new initiatives to satisfy pressing social needs.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

That this 27th International Convention oppose efforts to mandate balancing the budget either through Congressional amendments or the calling of a constitutional convention. AFSCME will vigorously oppose Congressional amendments which would require a balanced federal budget, and will urge state legislatures to defeat resolutions calling for a constitutional convention and to withdraw any calls already submitted to Congress; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

That AFSCME urge Congress to support a responsible federal budget policy by rejecting a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

SUBMITTED BY:

International Executive Board

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