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Friday, February 15th, 2019Last Update: Thursday, January 31st, 2019 08:02:19 PM

NFIB Scorecard of Legislators is Flawed This Year

By: Constitution Staff

Most years, the legislative scorecard of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is an excellent guide, as they themselves say, “in evaluating your legislator’s attitude toward small business.” But this year they missed the boat on one issue used in the scorecard. Big Time!

One of the issues used to rate legislators in their support for the interests of small business, believe it or not, was whether the lawmaker voted to call for an Article V Convention of the States! In using SJR 4, the NFIB gave a false representation of what the issue was all about, however.

In the scorecard, SJR 4 is referred to as “Federal Balanced Budget Resolution,” but the real issue of that resolution was whether to call for a Constitutional Convention. In bold letters, the scorecard reads, Federal Balanced Budget Resolution (SJR 4). Then, in lighter letters, the description states, “Supports an Article V Convention of the States for the purpose of proposing a federal balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

This is misleading. Most small business owners are mostly conservative, and certainly most NFIB members are conservative. They know that they have to balance their own books, that they can’t go on spending money that they do not have. So, it is not surprising that when told that there is a resolution calling upon the Congress to pass a balanced budget, they would nod in agreement.

This resolution, however, called for a Constitutional Convention to consider a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In plain language, many conservative legislators voted against the resolution because they consider the method – a constitutional convention – dangerous. The debate was mostly over the method, not the goal itself of a balanced budget.

Why did these staunchly conservative legislators, largely the most conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature, vote against a balanced federal budget? Because they were not voting against a balanced federal budget. They were voting against the call for a Constitutional Convention.

Yet, the NFIB scorecard leads its members to believe that the lawmakers who opposed the resolution are just opposed to balancing the federal budget. This is unfair.

So, the next question is, why did several of the most solidly conservative members of the Legislature vote against having a Constitutional Convention?

It is simple. A Constitutional Convention, once called, cannot be limited to a single subject. When the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was called by the Congress of the American Confederation, it was for the “sole and express purpose” of revising the Articles of Confederation. Now, we are fortunate that the Constitution of the United States which emerged from that convention turned out as well as it did. But James Madison said shortly after its conclusion that he feared the calling of another Constitutional Convention, believing it was a miracle what the first one produced.

The problems with our government today is not the Constitution. It is that the members of Congress, the president, and the Supreme Court do not follow it. Would they follow a new Constitution, or even one amendment to it, any better than they follow the original document?

After all, the First Amendment forbids Congress from abridging the freedom of the press and of speech. Yet, only seven years after its adoption, Congress passed the Sedition Act, which abridged the freedom of the press and of speech.

Those conservative legislators did not vote against this resolution because they oppose a balanced budget. They voted against the resolution because they fear any convention called could be a “runaway convention.” Many liberals want to see such a convention, so they can change the Second Amendment, or amend the First Amendment so they can restrict political speech.

To those who argue that the Constitution requires ratification of three-fourths of the states to approve of any action by any such Constitutional Convention should know that the Articles of Confederation required unanimous approval to change it. Yet, the delegates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention simply changed that provision to only nine of the 13 states.

Who is to say that a modern runaway convention would also nix our present constitutional requirement? After all, as it is now, constitutional provisions are routinely ignored by those in power. And if such a nefarious thing happened, who would stop it? The Supreme Court? Are you kidding?

State Representative Jason Murphey has a perfect 100 percent conservative score during his tenure on the Oklahoma Conservative Index published by the Oklahoma Constitution, yet NFIB gave him an 86 this year. Why? Because he voted against the resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention. Shouldn’t that tell you something? Shouldn’t that have told the NFIB something? It should tell you something about this year’s NFIB scorecard.

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