Monday, March 1, 2010

It's time for a basic change

WE THE PEOPLE voted very differently in the last election because we believed we wanted “change” and had “hope”. Like people choosing a movie from a very short, exciting trailer, we bought tickets to a show that turned out to have very objectionable content.

This blog is dedicated to a simple, clearly defined goal: amend the Constitution to reinforce and reinvigorate principled government of the people, by the people and for the people.

The four needed amendments are clear, simple, without extensive verbiage that lawyers and judges can misinterpret. They are designed to bring about a very fundamental change in the way our government operates, and to establish core principles that make it difficult for Congress to continue its manipulations.


1. No person shall serve as a Senator or Representative for a combined total of more than 12 years during his or her lifetime.

2. Senators and Representatives in office at the time of adoption of this Amendment who will exceed the 12 year limit by the end of their current term may serve to the end of that term, but may not run for Congress again.

3. This Amendment shall have ten (10) years from the date that Congress initiates ratification to be ratified by three fourths of the States of the United States.


1. The Congress shall not appropriate for expenditure, and the President shall not expend, more funds for any purpose or combination of purposes than the revenues projected by the Secretary of the Treasury for any budget year, unless Congress passes a Declaration of National Emergency by two-thirds vote of both houses and the President signs it.

2. Any excess in actual revenues above the budgeted amount must be used to reduce any outstanding Federal debt.

3. A Declaration of National Emergency must have a reauthorization date, which shall require a two-thirds majority of both Congressional houses and Presidential approval in order to extend the Declaration. Any extension must have a new reauthorization date.

4. The President shall have the right to veto any individual expenditure item within any bill passed by Congress without vetoing the entire bill. Congress may override such a veto by a two-thirds majority vote of both houses.

5. This Amendment shall have ten (10) years from the date that Congress initiates ratification to be ratified by three fourths of the States of the United States.


1. Amendment 16 to this Constitution is hereby repealed. Congress shall be prohibited from any levy of direct taxes based on income, production, inheritance or capital gains.

2. In recognition that all taxes are ultimately paid by individuals, Congress shall levy no taxes that are not visible at the point of purchase, and shall not tax corporations or other legal entities that are not persons.

3. Congress shall not impose any tax or grant any tax preference to any group that is not imposed on the population at large.

4. All taxation by the Federal government shall be based on sale of new products or services for consumption by individuals. Goods and services sold for resale or business use shall carry no tax.

5. This Amendment shall have ten (10) years from the date that Congress initiates ratification to be ratified by three fourths of the States of the United States.


1. Congress shall pass no law nor establish any program granting privileges or benefits to its members that are not available to the general public.

2. Congress shall not exempt itself or any of its members from any laws.

3. Congress shall not vote for final passage on any law until it has been available for public review for at least 7 days. Each section of any law shall include the name of the principal author of that section. Any legislator who votes on a law must certify that he has personally read and understood that law.

4. Congress shall attach to every law a full explanation of the authority for that law in the Constitution.

5. This Amendment shall have ten (10) years from the date that Congress initiates ratification to be ratified by three fourths of the States of the United States.

What do these Amendments accomplish?

1. They stop the most egregious practices that have evolved within our Congress.

2. They modernize and reinvigorate the Constitution

3. They strengthen good government by tightening the rules.

4. They restore our ability to trust our leaders.

• Term Limits prevent members of Congress from creating power careers in government. They serve to offset the seniority and committee systems that Congress has established to perpetuate incumbent careers.

• A Balanced Budget forces Congress to begin acting in a financially responsible way

• Tax Reform takes away Congress’s ability to use the tax code to reward friends and punish enemies and makes visible taxes that are hidden in corporate product prices today.

• Congressional Integrity takes away the most egregious practices that Congress uses to manipulate the legislative process.

What problems do they solve?

1. The Term Limits Amendment will reduce the ability of the radical right or radical left to achieve positions of great power.

2. The Balanced Budget Amendment will force Congress to reform the way it spends our money.

3. The Tax Reform Amendment will stop Congress from using the tax code to grant favors to select voter groups or punish particular segments of our society.

4. The Congressional Integrity Amendment specifically cures Congressional practices that have become the norm and are abhorrent to most citizens.

5. The Campaign Finance Reform Amendment sets clear, bright lines for the use of money to influence our politics.

II. Background

1. Election to Congress should not be a career. It should be a public service that a citizen performs and then returns to private life.

2. Congress should not have the ability to create deficits unless in time of national emergency. (The end of the fiscal year is NOT a national emergency!)

3. Congress should not be able to use the tax system to moderate behavior or grant special favors to special groups or redistribute income or implement a social agenda. The tax system should be used only to raise the necessary revenue for government operations and should be implemented in a manner that is fair to all citizens without regard to personal circumstance.

4. Congress should not be an exclusive club, with special programs and exemptions from the laws that affect the rest of us.

There are lots of other issues, and the public debate about them will (and should) no doubt continue. Most of these issues are contentious and do not have clear majority backing on either side. If the simple principles stated above can be implemented it will have a profound effect on our government and an extremely positive effect on our economy and our lives.

THIS IS A NON-PARTISAN AGENDA. Its sole intent is to change the rules by which the Congress operates in a manner that is clear, simple, and out of the reach of activist judges.

Why these amendments?

1. They establish/reestablish core principles

2. They are favored by a large majority

3. Both left and right can agree with them

4. They have enormous ripple effects

5. They stop the most egregious practices

Why now?

1. The government is out of control

2. The economy demands major change (just not the change it is getting)

3. The political parties are making the government dysfunctional

4. The tools exist to bypass traditional media and build national grassroots consensus

5. The public is angry

Why is this achievable now when it has not been in the past?

1. Citizens have come to loathe and fear their government

2. Online tools for grassroots organizing are now sufficiently powerful

3. Enough citizens have already shown that they agree with most of this agenda. Examination of signs at Tea Party rallies indicates broad support.

4. Congress is demonstrating the need on a daily basis

5. We can provide the means for connecting citizens with their state legislators where it has not existed in the past.

6. States trending toward insolvency directly threaten state sovereignty.

7. Both political parties have lost all credibility. Citizens are searching for coherent leadership and focused objectives.


  1. Kudos for your patriotic zeal!!

    "Pandora's Box" effect: Be aware that a constitutional convention cannot be limited to any one set of proposed amendments in any practical way. The "nut cases" and/or the "looters" will have their say. Count on it.

    Under the unlikely assumption that a constitutional convention's options can be limited to your set of proposed amendments, I offer the following suggestions:

    #29: A specific "reauthorization date" needs to be nailed down. Otherwise, some wag might suggest "the next appearance of Halley's Comet". In short, this is a loop hole you could "drive a truck through".

    #30: "business use" is an "eye of the beholder"-defined term. Suggest "end user sales tax" as a more "nailed down" term. Left as is, you can expect alot of pseudo "businesses" will crop up like mushrooms. Tax avoidance is a fun game that anyone who can, will practice.

    #31: 1. The term, "available" leaves alot of "wiggle room". e.g., "privileges" congress grants itself at no cost could be made "available" to the public at an exorbitant price.
    3. Suggest substituting "pubic review and comment" for "public review". Also suggest a 30 day (rather than 7 day) public vetting period.

    Consider an additional amendment limiting Supreme Court justices' terms to 20 years or age, 80 whichever occurs first.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment. I salute you!

    Jerry Prophitt

  2. Actually, the Constitution is silent on limitations. The states have the power to decide what the rules of the convention are, through their delegates. If we can gather enough support to influence the state legislatures to limit their delegates, the convention will only take up the issues authorized by the states.

    # 29 Regarding reauthorization of a Declaration of Emergency, the objective isn't to so limit Congress that it can't respond to events, but to assure that some rational discipline is imposed on the process. Just as the founders couldn't predict a Congress as out-of-control as this one, we can't predict what they will face in the future.

    #30 I would love to find clearer language to nail down "business use", but none seems to exist. Everyone will still try to game the system, and we will still need some kind of tax enforcement, and the courts will still determine intent and guilt.

    #31 Agreed. "...made available on the same terms and conditions" is probably a tighter phrase.

    Thanks for your input.