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Switzerland's budget surplus shows power of constitutional restraints on federal spending

Published in Blog on July 10, 2019 by Convention Of States

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With our country careening towards larger and larger deficits and a crippling national debt, fiscal responsibility in D.C. can seem like an all-but-impossible dream.

And it's true -- under the status quo, Congress will never vote to cut spending because it might jeopardize reelection campaigns. Cutting wasteful and duplicative government programs is good for the country, but those programs have a constituency that might get angry when their favorite government handout is no longer available.

That's why we can't rely on Congress to impose restraints on itself. We need to call a Convention of States to propose constitutional amendments that force the federal government to be fiscally responsible.

Believe it or not, Switzerland might provide a blueprint. The tiny European republic is currently running a budget surplus, and they've done it with simple but effective constitutional amendments. The Daily Signal reports:

The secret of Switzerland’s budgetary success is simple: The Swiss follow the rules. 

As The Heritage Foundation’s Romina Boccia notes, the Swiss government is restrained by what is called a “debt brake”—a constitutional balanced-budget amendment that requires the government’s budget to balance over the course of a normal business cycle. 

The Swiss rule has successfully cut debt-to-GDP from 49% to well below 30%. It enjoys wide support, thanks in large part to its transparent, simple, and limited design.

The spending limit is also flexible, allowing for deficits during economic downturns and requiring a small budget surplus during booms. 

By contrast, the "rules" in the United States are "weak and opaque," according to the Signal. Congress can change the rules at any time, which allows our national politicians to simply raise the spending limit or increase the debt ceiling whenever it becomes politically expedient. 

Constitutional amendments that mandate fiscal responsibility would be much more difficult to change on a whim. With these clearly written amendments in place, Congress would be forced to balance the budget, cut spending, and limit taxation, saving our country for economic collapse and securing the future of generations to come.

Congress will never place limits on itself, which is whey the people and the states need to step in with an Article V Convention of States.

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Almost everyone knows that our federal government is on a dangerous course. The unsustainable debt combined with crushing regulations on states and businesses is a recipe for disaster.

What is less known is that the Founders gave state legislatures the power to act as a final check on abuses of power by Washington, DC. Article V of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the state legislatures to call a convention for proposing needed amendments to the Constitution. This process does not require the consent of the federal government in Washington, DC.

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