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Resolutions & Amendments

26th International Convention - San Francisco, CA (1984)

Opposition to Constitutional Amendment to Balance the Budget

Resolution No. 206
26th International Convention
June 18-22, 1984
San Francisco, CA


Efforts are still underway to convene a Constitutional Convention to consider an amendment requiring a balanced federal budget every year, and to push a balanced budget constitutional amendment through the Congress. These efforts are being spearheaded by right-wing interest groups. As of this date, 32 of the 34 states needed to convene a Constitutional Convention have petitioned Congress to do so; and


Many constitutional scholars maintain that a convention could not be limited to a single issue. An endless number of emotional and divisive issues could be brought up in an open convention-repeal of the income tax, busing and abortion, to name only a few. Such a proceeding would serve as a catalyst for demagogy of the worst kind; and


A Constitutional Convention would certainly reach into areas which are properly left to the legislative process. By writing particular social and economic policies into the U. S. Constitution, a convention would infringe on the democratic right of American voters to choose between competing socio-economic programs in elections; and


The attempt to mandate an annually balanced federal budget without regard to the state of the U.S. economy shows political irresponsibility and economic extremism. It is ironic that such an amendment is being vigorously supported by a conservative President soon after he proposed a budget that would result in a $190 million deficit; and


Federal budget deficits only have a negligible effect on inflation as evidenced by our recent economic experience. In 1979 and 1980, inflation averaged 12 percent, while the federal deficits averaged $43 billion annually. In 1982 and 1983, the inflation rate averaged less than 4 percent, while the deficits averaged over $150 billion annually; and


Deficits are occasionally necessary to stimulate the economy and to counter recessions, and as an econometric study commissioned by AFSCME has shown, the implementation of a balanced budget two years ago would have meant a continuation of recession; and


A balanced budget requirement would dangerously restrict the flexibility of the federal government's economic policy and would greatly reduce the government's ability to undertake new initiatives to satisfy pressing social needs.


That AFSCME oppose efforts to mandate balancing the budget either through Congressional amendment or the calling of a Constitutional Convention. AFSCME will vigorously oppose Congressional amendments which would require a balanced federal budget, and will urge state legislatures to defeat resolutions calling for a constitutional Convention and to withdraw any calls already submitted to Congress; and


That AFSCME urge Congress to support a responsible federal budget policy by rejecting a balanced budget constitutional amendment.


International Executive Board