Sen. Coburn: There’s ‘relief valve’ when feds grab too much power


The U.S. national debt is approaching $20 trillion while the nation’s unfunded liabilities have soared past $106 trillion.

Federal spending has continuously exceeded federal revenues over the past 20 years under Republican and Democratic presidents alike, leading to ballooning budget deficits and ever more debt.

The trend leads many people to wonder if Washington politicians can be trusted to avoid steering the country off a fiscal cliff.

“Do we expect the elites in Washington to do what’s best in the long term for the country when, in fact, their real conflict is doing what’s best for their political career?” former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., asked in a recent appearance on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”

He noted republics historically die from fiscal malfeasance, making it all the more urgent to balance the budget and bring federal debt under control.

“To not do anything, to me, is a moral injustice to the people that follow us,” Coburn declared. “And I know people don’t want to pay attention to that, but the fact is we have an obligation to those that come after us to be responsible stewards and to start acting responsibly, because we certainly haven’t the last 25 years.”

To that end, Coburn has latched onto an effort to call an Article V Convention of States. Such a convention is one of two methods given in Article V of the U.S. Constitution to amend the Constitution, although the convention option has never been used in American history.

Coburn laid out the case for a convention in his newest book, “Smashing the DC Monopoly: Using Article V to Restore Freedom and Stop America’s Runaway Government.”



To hold an Article V Convention, two-thirds of the state legislatures must pass an application asking Congress to call for one. Currently 12 states have passed an application out of 34 needed. All state applications must deal with the same topics. The 12 current applications all ask for a convention to propose constitutional amendments that would limit the scope and jurisdiction of the federal government, limit the terms of appointed and elected officials and impose fiscal restraint on Congress.

“Why is the Congress not considering economic and fiscal restraint right now?” Coburn asked. “Where is the movement for a balanced budget amendment? Eighty-five percent of America wants that, but nobody’s doing that in Washington, so it’s not going to happen unless we the people make it happen.”

Were an Article V Convention to be called, states would have the freedom to choose delegates however they saw fit. Once at the convention, however, delegates would need to stick to amendments that match the topics spelled out in the state applications. Any amendments proposed at the convention would be sent back to the state legislatures for ratification, and three-fourths of states would need to ratify them before they became part of the Constitution.

According to Coburn, who now serves as a senior adviser to the Convention of States Project, the convention provision of Article V was designed as a way to empower the states and the people to rein in a federal government that had become too powerful.

“It’s the relief valve for the states when they see this imbalance, and what’s happened to us is there’s no longer a balance of power between the three branches here in our federal government, but there’s also no longer a balance of power between the federal government and the states,” he said.

Coburn said the Convention of States Project has bipartisan support in many states. It has met plenty of opposition, but it also has considerable support, with grassroots volunteers in every legislative district in the country. And Coburn said the project is still expanding its grassroots base, hoping to reach 10 million volunteers by the end of the year. He added that eight to ten more states are expected to pass the convention resolution within the next year.

Are you tired of D.C. elitists looking out only for their own interests? The federal government will never willingly relinquish the powers it has usurped – it’s up to We the People to wrest control from an overreaching federal leviathan and give it back to our state and local representatives where it belongs. Retired Sen. Tom Coburn reveals how we can do that in “Smashing the DC Monopoly: Using Article V to Restore Freedom and Stop America’s Runaway Government,” available now at the WND Superstore.


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