The Left Spins Untruths About An Article V Convention Of The States

The Left Spins Untruths About An Article V Convention Of The States

calls it a corporate-funded scheme


Proposals to amend the Wisconsin Constitution are submitted to the people of Wisconsin for a “yes” or “no” vote.

But some Wisconsin legislators want to commit our state to making major alterations in the U.S. Constitution without even consulting the people.

That’s absurd. And it provides a reminder of the extent to which many of our legislators are taking their cues from corporate influence peddlers in Washington and New York, and campaign donors in Texas and Florida, rather than the voters in Wausau and New London and Tomah and Fond du Lac.

Last week, on a party-line vote, the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections gave an OK to Assembly Joint Resolution 81, which calls on Congress to initiate a constitutional convention for the purpose of amending the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget.

The proposal did not come from Wisconsin voters, argues state Rep. Chris Taylor. Rather, the Madison Democrat explains, it came from the American Legislative Exchange Council, which last August launched an ambitious corporate-funded “Convention of States” scheme to restructure the U.S. Constitution. The goal is to reduce the ability of the federal government to regulate and control the activities of multinational corporations, and to make it easier for business interests to manipulate the process in state capitols.

Taylor, who has worked hard to expose and challenge the influence of ALEC and its corporate sponsors on the Wisconsin Legislature, notes: “The Convention of States project, led by a founder of the Tea Party Patriots, aims to curtail the power of the federal government to protect the environment, consumers and workers.”

Taylor says: “AJR 81 comes right out of the Convention of States workshop and materials presented at ALEC, where state legislators were promised bundled campaign contributions and grass-roots support if they joined this effort to amend the federal Constitution. I am alarmed that this effort is now making its way through the Wisconsin Legislature.”

She is right to be alarmed.

She is equally right to point out the irony of the fact that, as Republican legislators were promoting the balanced budget amendment scheme with pious talk about “fiscal responsibility,” they were also considering proposals to increase Wisconsin’s structural deficit.

The cynicism and hypocrisy of the legislators who pulled a page from the playbook of a national organization and placed it on the Assembly agenda should unsettle Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.

But anger and frustration are not the only appropriate responses. There’s something that can and should be done.

The Legislature has been presented with several proposals regarding federal constitutional issues. The Assembly and the Senate ought to schedule statewide advisory referendums on these matters.

As the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau explains, “The state Legislature and any local government lawmaking body may choose to hold an advisory referendum on an issue.” The results of advisory referendums are not officially binding. But the Legislature could, on the basis of the results, act to formally communicate the will of the people to Congress.

If Republican legislators want to advance the ALEC proposal, let them schedule an advisory referendum for this fall on the balanced budget amendment.

But they should not stop there.

They should also schedule an advisory referendum on an issue that Wisconsinites want to vote on: the influence of corporate money on elections and government.

Wisconsin’s Money Out, Voters In coalition recently submitted close to 25,000 signatures on petitions calling for Wisconsin to join 16 other states in calling on Congress to approve a constitutional amendment that would reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC — which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy elections — and restore the right of citizens and their elected representatives to regulate the influence of money in politics.

United Wisconsin and the dozens of other groups in the Money Out, Voters In coalition want the Legislature to place a statewide advisory referendum on the November 2014 general election ballot. Taylor and state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, have submitted legislation to do just that.

Scheduling two advisory referendums for this fall would be easy, and inexpensive — as Wisconsinites will already be voting for governor, statewide and county posts, legislative seats and Congress. It would also generate interest in the election, potentially drawing more voters to the polls.

The people of Wisconsin, not out-of-state corporations and their Washington-based henchmen, should decide whether Wisconsin calls for changing the U.S. Constitution.

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