As state legislators prepared for the 2018 legislative session, including 72 lawmakers from 19 states who attended the Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) Planning Convention, former Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton slammed the movement as a partisan conspiracy.
In a September 13, 2017 interview with Pod Save America, an online podcast series hosted by former Obama administration spokesmen Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor, Clinton said state legislatures’ calls for a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution represented an extremist position.
“They want to have a constitutional convention to rewrite our constitution, to make it friendlier to business, to inject religious and ideological elements,” Clinton said during the podcast promoting What Happened, an autobiography about her 2016 presidential campaign. “So, talk about radical change! They are pursuing it, they are funding it, and they are electing people that are either true believers or are willing vehicles for it.”
Planning Convention Held
In September 2017, the Arizona State Legislature hosted delegations of state lawmakers from 19 states setting ground rules for a future amendment convention.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution establishes methods for proposing and enacting amendments. After 34 states call for an amendment convention, commissioners will meet to consider amendment executing the proposal specified by the call. State legislatures are responsible for selecting commissioners.
Currently, 28 states have approved a balanced-budget amendment based on legislation proposed by the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force.
‘She’s Potentially Losing It’
Rob Natelson, a constitutional scholar and policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, says Clinton’s comments surprised him.
“I’ve never been an admirer of Hillary Clinton or her political views, but I’ve always thought of her as an intelligent, politically grounded woman,” Natelson said. “I read this and I’m concerned that she’s potentially losing it. You can quote this: She seems to be losing it. There is no connection with reality, in almost anything she’s saying here.”
Clinton’s podcast comments don’t reflect reality, Natelson says.
“I don’t think that she would necessarily be consciously lying about this, but if she believes this, she has a serious reality problem,” Natelson said. “It raises serious questions about what kind of president she would have been. The president, of all people, has to be grounded in reality. I can’t psychoanalyze her, but it is just a total disconnect from reality.”
Natelson says Clinton should know more about the Constitution and the process for updating it, given her educational background.
“She’s a Yale-trained lawyer,” Natelson said. “She should know the process. She doesn’t have a clue. She doesn’t know what is occurring.”
A ‘Bizarre’ Interview
Mark Meckler, founder and president of Citizens for Self-Governance, says Clinton’s statement was strange and uncalled-for.
“I think it’s bizarre, to be honest with you, and it’s bizarre on a number of levels,” Meckler said. “First of all, it’s bizarre because she made these comments when nobody asked her about it. Nobody asked her anything about Article V, if you watch the interview.”
Citizens for Self-Governance manages the Convention of States Project, one of several balanced-budget amendment proposals state legislatures are considering. In addition to writing for Budget & Tax News, this story’s author is a Convention of States volunteer.
Liberal Groups Lining Up?
Two hundred thirty liberal organizations signed a coalition letter in March 2016 opposing the amendment convention movement, Meckler says, suggesting unprecedented organized resistance.
“I can’t find a single person in Washington, DC, or anywhere in the country, who can think of a time when that many leftist groups got together and signed a petition on anything,” Meckler said. “You couldn’t even get 230 groups behind a single presidential candidate. They can’t get 230 groups to sign a letter against tax reform or against repeal of Obamacare.”
Meckler says he believes Clinton’s podcasted comments are part of that shadow campaign.
“What is inspiring her to talk about this, all of a sudden?” Meckler said. “I’m certain that I know the answer to that question: She’s working with these 230 leftist organizations and the leadership thereof, and somebody is feeding her these talking points.”