- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - As he weighs a 2016 presidential bid, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich visited the West Virginia statehouse Thursday to urge lawmakers to call for a constitutional convention for a federal balanced-budget amendment.

That morning, Kasich made a similar appeal in South Carolina, an early primary state. His balanced-budget tour has also taken him to Arizona, North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho.

With a ticking debt clock behind him in the West Virginia Capitol, the 62-year-old former U.S. House budget chairman said the push could be an opportunity for polarized political factions to work together.

“This may be a way in which we can all sit down, like I did with the Clinton administration and worked through an agreement that would serve America,” Kasich said.

Thirty-four states would need to pass resolutions to hold the convention, which would be the first since 1787 in Philadelphia. Thirty-eight states would need to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Opponents worry there won’t be a way to rein in what convention delegates try to change, letting them write their own rules and bring a frenzy of topics into play.

Kasich and many groups say 25 states have cleared resolutions for a convention on the balanced-budget issue.

The progressive Center on Budget Policy and Priorities points out that some states have rescinded resolutions, but, ultimately, it’s up to Congress to say if the 34-state mark is met.

Kasich acknowledged concerns about a runaway convention, though he disagrees that the gathering couldn’t be limited.

“It is a real fear out there. It blocks us in some ways,” Kasich said. “But I tell you, if we fiddle around, Rome’s going to burn.”

Groups also fear a balanced-budget amendment would handcuff the government and spur drastic cuts.

Kasich said a balanced-budget requirement would be phased in, and include exemptions for national crises and severe economic downturns.

In West Virginia, a resolution by Republican Sen. Robert Karnes, R-Upshur, isn’t that specific. It calls for a convention to pass fiscal restraints, limits on federal government power and congressional term limits. The proposal cleared one committee Wednesday.

Another resolution by Sen. Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, is limited to the convention and balanced-budget amendment.

South Dakota, which passed its resolution Tuesday, goes even further.

It requires convention delegates from the state to take an oath affirming they wouldn’t support a rogue amendment, and the measure would allow up to a $5,000 civil fine if a delegate violated the oath.

In Virginia, a call for the convention is likely to die again this year.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide