Americans clamor for a balanced budget amendment

Rep. Ken Buck Contributor
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Last year, I threw my hat in the ring as a candidate for U.S. Senate in Colorado. I decided to run primarily out of anguish for the direction our country was headed. All of us watched as spending increased, government grew and American families and businesses struggled to keep their heads above water. Now, almost two years later, I’m afraid things aren’t much different. While on the campaign trail, I often spoke with activists, small business owners, and hard-working families about Washington’s out-of-control spending. I heard from folks who, even in a tough economy, make it a priority to live within their means and balance their budgets. Folks like us who pay our bills on time.

The federal government’s reckless spending was a defining issue during the 2010 election cycle, and is still of grave concern today. Now even those not normally concerned with economics are sounding the alarm. Each one of us ought to sit down and write a thank-you note to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen, who recently warned us all, “The most significant threat to our national security is our debt.” Clear thinking from an honorable patriot whose primary responsibility is to establish peace and safety for every American threatened by bullets and bombs across a troubled world.

Americans are pleading with their representatives to lead by example. With rapidly climbing debt and continued rampant spending, Americans stand bewildered by the lack of response from our government officials. Make no mistake: they are hearing us, but most are just ignoring us despite the dire writing on the wall.

It seems the rise of tea party groups, pro-liberty organizations, and a wave of authentic Republican victories in 2010 wasn’t enough to wake up our representatives about the peril we face as a country heading down a path to bankruptcy.

Our national debt has reached an unbelievable $14.2 trillion, steadily increasing every second of every day. That’s $144,000 of debt on the backs of every man, woman and child in America. The voters of Greece, Spain, and California also never thought their debt bill would become due.

In order to pay our government’s bills, the Treasury Department warns we must raise the debt ceiling — again — this month. President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget would result in a total spending increase of 57 percent over the next decade. America’s so-called “gold-plated” credit rating is facing a downgrade, compounding our economic troubles.

Undoubtedly, the politicians in charge today won’t act unless we force their hand, once and for all, by passing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Only then, with strict spending caps and tax limitation, will they be forced to do the will of voters and stop their big-spending joy ride.

By now I think we can all agree that the solution to our country’s economic problems won’t come from Washington, D.C. or New York. The answers will come from ordinary Americans who organize at the grassroots level to create a new national mandate from the bottom up. You may remember from your first civics class that three-fourths of the states (that’s 38) must ratify all new amendments to our Constitution. With such a huge hurdle to clear, as it should be, each of us must take personal and genuine ownership of the solution and get to work while Washington keeps talking it out.

In January, I rolled up my sleeves and created a grassroots charity to help everyday Americans take ownership of a primary solution to our economic troubles, a federal balanced budget amendment. Literally within minutes of announcing my plan to organize nationally from the bottom up, I received emails, phone calls, and small donations from people just like you and me who are ready to work for a solution rather than continue to complain about our problems.

As a result of this quick and ambitious early support from grassroots citizens, I was recently named national co-chair of Pass the Balance Balanced Budget Amendment, the nation’s leading organization to pass the constitutional amendment that could save our nation. Along with the Honorable Ken Blackwell, we are organizing in all 50 states to make fiscal responsibility a reality in Washington, D.C. before it’s too late. But unless each one of us takes immediate and personal action, how will we restore America to her rightful place? Are you ready to roll up your sleeves when the politicians refuse? If so, please let me know at www.PassTheBBA.com.

Ken Buck is a district attorney from Colorado and former Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.