Former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn on Wednesday said Americans should ban together at the state level and pass a balanced budget amendment to force Washington politicians to do their jobs.
Coburn joined the cast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to dicuss his new book “Smashing the DC Monopoly,” a crash course in how state legislatures could use Article 5 of the Constitution to limit the federal government’s power.
“I left Washington because I didn’t see we could fix it there,” Coburn said. “And our founders gave us this opportunity for state legislatures to re-exert their authority to restore the Constitution to its original intent.”
The former lawmaker is calling on the legislatures of 34 U.S. states to file an Article 5 convention to force a balanced budget using generally accepted accounting principles and limit the power and scope of the federal government.
Here’s a little more on how an Article 5 convention would play out:
Coburn argues that empowering state lawmakers to push for responsible government is the only way to get Washington waste, fraud and abuse under control.
“Ask yourself why we’re not fixing social security. Why are we not fixing Medicare’s unfunded liabilities? Why do we have $400 billion in waste and duplication … $145 billion in improper payments,” he said.
Coburn knows his stuff when it comes to wasteful federal spending. He was one of Washington’s strongest budget hawks while in office. And as a senator, Coburn published an annual “Wastebook” which offered a shocking rundown of Washington’s most disgusting taxpayer abuses.
He also knows a thing or to about why his former colleagues inside the Beltway will never make meaningful efforts to cut government spending.
“Career politicians aren’t going to solve it; and our founders knew that. They never intended for people to serve a lifetime in public service in Washington,” Coburn said. “Therefore, the next election trumps anything else; and I don’t mean to make a pun. But it’s more important. How do we actually muzzle the alligators in the swamp?… By reducing their authority back to what it was originally intended.”
Another problem with the budget, Coburn said, is that most Americans have a hard time even fathoming the massive amount of debt currently suffocating the nation.
“Unfunded liabilities plus debt now is $144 trillion. People don’t know what a billion is,” Coburn said. “If you make $40,000 a year, you have to work 20 years to make a million dollars. To make a billion, you have to work 25,000 years.”
The average millennial, the lawmaker said, will end up paying back $1.7 million over the next 50 years solely because of unfunded liabilities.
Coburn argues that his plan help states force a balanced budget amendment would give Washington politicians an “excuse to have a spine.”
Right now, the former senator said Washington is too mired in “mass confusion and lack of leadership… at the White House, the Senate [and] the House.”
If he were the king of Washington, Coburn said, he’d put Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) “in charge of everything in the Senate.” The lawmaker added that he’d also like to see fiscal conservatives like Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) receive more attention.
‘They’re not interested in political gamesmanship, they’re interested in fixing our country,” Coburn said.
Learn more about how an Article 5 convention would work– and find out how you can help make it happen– from Convention of States.