Balanced Budget Amendment: It is Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! Always answering your questions from constitutional principles! Tune in today as we answer your most pressing questions such!
Air Date: 02/14/2019
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith And The Culture
President Thomas Jefferson said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
Welcome the intersection of faith and the culture; this is WallBuilders Live where we talk about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, always from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. You found us on a Thursday; we call it “Foundations of Freedom Thursday” around here. That means we’re just going to dive into those foundations; but, we’re going to let you pick the topic in that area.
Send in Your Questions
And, you can do that by sending in your questions to [email protected] We’ve got a stack of them to start with today. David Barton is here to help us answer them.
He’s America’s premier historian. Tim Barton’s with us, a national speaker and pastor. My name’s Rick Green; I’m a former Texas legislator.
Visit our websites today at WallBuildersLive.com and WallBuilders.com. Let’s dive into those questions. Allright, so David, Tim, we’ve got plenty of questions to get to. Are you guys ready for the first one?
Let’s go for it.
Allright, folks that are out there, if you’d like to get your question answered, send it in to [email protected] Here comes the first one from Greg.
Balanced Budget Amendment
He said, “I understand there is a balanced budget amendment in Congress. Is this a good amendment? My congressman says it’s weak. I feel the amendment is long overdue.
“However, I hope for an amendment that is functional and well-written so that the court cannot overturn it. What can you tell me?” So, Greg, good question.
David, Tim, I didn’t know; I think somebody files one of these, hopefully, every session. I’d really like to see one get passed; but, I don’t know which one he’s referring to as far as whether there’s real momentum on it. What what do you got or heard?
Well, interesting stuff. Let’s back up on a balanced budget amendment and why we need it in the first place. If you have a balanced budget amendment, it keeps you from going in debt and keeps the debt from increasing.
It also holds you at a spending limit; so, you can’t spend more than you take in. That’s the first thing about it.
And, by the way, we’re spending billions, if not trillions, of dollars more than we are making each year in America. And so, every family knows if you keep spending more than you make, your family’s not going to survive. So, this really should be a commonsense thing, saying, “Hey, let’s balance the budget.”
It shouldn’t need to be a constitutional amendment for the leaders of our nation to recognize we should not be spending money we don’t have and we shouldn’t be spending more money than we make. So, the idea behind it is very solid, very sound; it’s what every family would do if they find themselves in a financially tough situation. Or, really if they want to have money in the future, you don’t spend as much as you make or always spend less than you make, then you always have money.
But, America has not been running that way for the past several decades.
The First Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment
Yeah, it has not been running that way. But, let me ask a question. Do you know when the first balanced budget amendment was proposed?
Wow, the first time one was actually proposed by a member of Congress or the Senate or the House and not necessarily got a lot of momentum, but was just proposed?
Right. When was it first proposed?
I’m going to guess early on, right? Because, the Constitution does authorize debt and borrowing, right there in Article 1, Section 8. So, maybe very quickly after the Constitution was ratified, there were probably some members saying, “Maybe that’s not such a good idea except in emergencies;” so, I’m going to guess maybe early 1800’s.
I think it’s a really good guess. I would tend to think the Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, would have been inclined to this; however, I also think in their wisdom they would think, Surely nobody would be that dumb.
And so, there’s many provisions that we can look at the Constitution today and think, Why didn’t they put that in there? And, I’m inclined to think that is because they thought Surely people won’t be dumb enough that they are going to need to be told this. So, I’m a little torn. It does make sense that they would have at least talked about it. I don’t know that it would have been proposed necessarily; But, I’ll go Founding Era, just as a guess.
The Situation in 1798
Actually, it was Vice President Thomas Jefferson in 1798, in the John Adams administration. Remember, vice presidents and presidents back then were not by agreement; so, whoever was the second on the presidential ticket became the vice president. And so, politically–
You mean whoever the second most votes for president became the vice president.
So, they’re not on the same ticket running together; they’re the opposing candidates. So, imagine if Hillary Clinton would have been Donald Trump’s vice president.
Best reality show in history. Everyone would be glued to the TV 24/7, watching the chaos of President Donald Trump and Vice President Hillary Clinton. It would have actually been pretty exciting. Maybe we should repeal the 12th Amendment that fix that. Maybe not; but, anyway, go ahead.
Well, what happens is Thomas Jefferson’s a very limited-government guy. He does not want to see federal government grow. He thinks government belongs at the state and local level but not much at the federal level.
But, John Adams is more open to government growth. It’s not that he’s a big- government guy; but, as a federalist, he’s more open to the government doing more things. And so, this is what Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1798.
Solution: Take the Power of Borrowing from the Federal Government
He says, “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on alone for the reduction of the administration by our government.” In other words, if I got that amendment, I’d never worry about government growing, ever.
He says, “I mean an additional article taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.” In other words, if you can’t borrow money, you can’t go into debt. You can only spend what you have.
And, he wanted that constitutional amendment to prevent any borrowing of money by the federal government; and, that would keep government from growing.
Well, at this point, it seems like we’re borrowing from ourselves, which is a different problem. We’re writing ourselves an IOU. But, the concept still, going back to Jefferson, does make a lot of sense.
This is one you know guys we’ve talked about before, even when we do Patriot Academy every summer and we have young people coming from all over the nation. We talk about amendments to the Constitution, and largely we agree there’s only two or three things that we think make the most sense to make constitutional amendments. But, certainly one that we all agree on is the idea of this economic position of spending and borrowing and the balanced budgets.
And so, again, Rick, as you mentioned, I don’t know specifically which piece of legislation he’s referring to; because, I know that’s been proposed several times.
By and large–
By the way, it proposed several times. Jefferson didn’t get what he wanted. When’s the next time we have a proposal for a balanced budget? Remember, we went into that several times.
Wars Usually Cause Debt
Every time you go into war, you’ll end up going into debt. And so, with the Civil war, we went into debt. That’s the first time we instituted an income tax.
It was a temporary tax for a couple years, a tax on the income of people to help pay off the war debt. So, every time you go into war, you’re going to have a debt essentially.
So, do you take from Jefferson, when is the next time we have a balanced budget amendment? And, it wasn’t necessarily because of war; but, that’s always the time we do go into debt. So, we’ve had a lot of debt over our history.
Well, there’s only been a couple presidents in our history that have had a good budget during their presidency. Andrew Jackson actually was a guy who the budget was very good under; and, he’s certainly somebody that we don’t agree with philosophy on so many levels. Obviously he had some very bad positions; he was a racist.
Now he was the founder of the Democrat Party. There’s a lot of things that philosophically we would disagree with; but, I wouldn’t be surprised if based on Jackson’s position, he said, “This is the way it ought to be going forward.”
From FDR to Ronald Reagan
Well, you’re going to have to take Jackson plus 100 years to get to the next time. It’s under FDR and all the New Deal stuff and so, all the growth.
Then, it’s a Republican in 1936 that says, “We can’t pay for all this; we’re borrowing and we can’t do this. Let’s have a balanced budget amendment.” It didn’t happen.
The next time it really pops up is under Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan came and said, “We’ve got to knock down the spending. Government is too big; it’s growing.” And so, in 1982, there was an attempted balanced budget amendment.
But, the one that really becomes significant is in 1995, after Newt Gingrich gets in and Congress changes. In 1995, we’re going to do it. The Constitution requires for a balanced budget amendment or for any amendment to the Constitution, two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate.
So, that the House, I mean, they slam it. It takes 270 votes; they had 300 votes and got it done.
Missed by One Vote
It went to the Senate. You need 66 votes, and they got 65 votes. So, in 1995, we missed the constitutional amendment by one vote.
One vote. We could have stopped this debt and the government shut down and everything else that happens; because, the shutdown is over funding the government. We don’t have the money to fund it, so we’re going to raise the debt limit and go borrow more money to fund the government. And so, guys say, “We’re not going to do that; so, we shut the government down.”
And so, you get this thing of–we could have stopped this way back in ’95. But, here we are still fighting it. So, a balanced budget amendment came up, and a number of other times it came up in the early 2000s under George W. Bush. It came up again.
Last year we had another balanced budget amendment; that’s, I think, the one where that people said, “Oh, it’s not strong enough.” Well, the balanced budget amendment last year is the identical wording of what it was in 1995.
And, here’s just some key provisions out of that balanced budget amendment. Here’s what it would do. Yes, you might could make it stronger; but, at the same, time you’ve got to get two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate.
It says, “Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year.” So, you can’t spend more than you have. The limit on the debt of the United States cannot be increased unless by 60 percent of the House members; and, you have to do it on a roll call vote.
You cannot have any bill to raise taxes unless it’s by roll call vote; and, you can waive the provisions of this if it’s a time of war. So, in a time of war, which is when you have to really kind of build and borrow money to build war machines. So, that’s that’s the essence of the balanced budget amendment; it’s fairly simple.
Partisan Politics and One Vote
Maybe it could be stronger; but, I would take this in a heartbeat if we could get it done, because that would stop so much of what’s going on. The last time we did this in 2018, it was a straight partisan vote. No Democrats went for it; Republicans pretty much all with it but a couple.
But essentially, it is straight party; and, it’s been that way since back in 1995. Democrats have opposed any limitation on spending in any attempt to make the budget even. Republicans keep pushing, and so they’ve introduced it again this year.
Rick, you mentioned they introduced it like every year, and that’s true. But, getting it to the floor and getting it through the right committees is not going to happen now with Democrats in charge.
Yes, that’s a shame that–and, you know think of how much. What did you say that 1995?
I mean, 24 years, just think of all of that deficit spending, as Tim said, in the trillions that we could have saved the American people if that one vote had switched.
Man, don’t don’t ever believe one vote doesn’t matter. Every vote counts for sure. Quick break; we’ll be right back on Foundations of Freedom Thursday here are WallBuilders Live!
Abraham Lincoln said, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
This Precarious Moment Book
This is David Barton. I want to let about a brand new book we have called This Precarious Moment: Six Urgent Steps That Will Save You, Your family, and Our Country. Jim Garlow and I have co-authored this book and we take six issues that are hot in the culture right now.
Issues that we’re dealing with, issues such as immigration, race relations, our relationship with Israel, the rising generation Millennials, and the absence of the church in the culture wars, and where American heritage is, our godly heritage. We look at all six of those issues right now that are under attack and we give you both Biblical and historical perspective on those issues that provide solutions on what each of us can do right now to make a difference.
These are all problems that are solvable if we’ll get involved. So you can grab the book This Precarious Moment and find out what you can do to make a difference. This Precarious Moment is available at WallBuilders.com.
Be At All Times Armed
Thomas Jefferson said, “The constitutions of most of our states, and of the United States, assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed. That they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”
Pastor John Wise on the $20 Bill
We’re back on WallBuilders Live! Thanks for staying with us on this Foundations of Freedom Thursday. Next question is about Pastor John Wise.
We’ve talked about him on the program many times, and David you’ve pointed out some really great things about Pastor Wise and the foundational principles there in the Declaration coming from him in sermons. Even in the Founders’ Bible, I just read the other day an article in the Founders’ Bible that was showing Adams and others quoting John Wise and referring back to his sermon. So, here’s a great question.
It says, “Pastor John Wise, like you often mentioned, has done a lot to help establish the freedoms we enjoy today in the United States. I was born in Haiti; so, I can say this. Andrew Jackson is known by people who want to turn the United States into a poverty- stricken country like Haiti, as a tyrant who oppressed the Indians. Would you support the idea of replacing Andrew Jackson on our $20 bill with Pastor John Wise, not to suppress history, but to disrupt and expose the hostility of progressives to people of religious faith?”
Interesting question, guys. John Wise, Pastor John Wise, on the $20 bill. What say you?
Well, I think we’ve talked about this before on the program; it has probably been a couple of years ago, about the idea of removing Jackson because of who he was. I mean, the time we talked about, there were a lot of really interesting heroes that could be very good options.
I think they’ve settled on Harriet Tubman as the new face for the $20 bill, at least the last last account was.
Yes, and, I think you have the Treasury Department said that they are move in that direction. Who knows if and when that’s going to happen. And so, I have no problem saying, “Let’s honor someone different.”
Statues Are a Different Conversation
And, this is this is a different conversation than saying, “Let’s tear down all the statues of Confederate officers and generals.” And, this isn’t about tearing down statues. But, this is recognizing if we’re gonna honor someone, there are lots of people worthy of honor.
And, and John wise is someone who certainly was significant in the Founding Era. Certainly, many of his sermons were very influential to the Founding Fathers; some of the sermons were literally shaping the verbiage of the Declaration of Independence. But, I don’t know that he would be the most influential individual from American history that might be worthy of honor the $20 bill; although, certainly he was a great guy.
Yes, he’s a great guy. And, it usually takes somebody that everybody kind of recognizes to go on any kind of a bill or postage stamp or whatever. And, John Wise hasn’t reached that level yet.
He should have. He’s a great influence, and a number of presidents have talked about him. But, we just don’t cover the history books.
I’ll have to take that back. Actually, the Texas history standards did include John Wise; so, he was added in the last round of American history standards in Texas. So, that’s good; there is some recognition coming back.
How Many $20 Bills?
But, I think it’s more interesting kind of focus on Andrew Jackson for a minute. Why did he ever end up on that? And, by the way, do you know how many people live in the world today?
I’ve always heard 6 billion. Is that still accurate?
You’re an old man. You must have white hair.
It’s more than that I guess.
It’s over 7 billion.
It’s seven 7.5 billion is the current number seven point five. Do you know how many in current-circulation, Andrew Jackson $20 bills are currently being circulated right now?
Well, based on the movies I see with briefcases full of money–
Yeah, the pallet there stacked with the cash stacked up on. I mean, I would think hundreds of thousands of $20 bills are still in circulation.
No, a little higher. What you have right now is 8.1 billion $20 bills. There’s more Andrew Jackson $20 bills floating around the world than there are people in the world. So, you know, replacing Andrew Jackson $20 bills is going to be a real project
Why Andrew Jackson?
But, having said that, Tim even mentioned in the first segment that Andrew Jackson is not a guy we look to because of his position on slavery and the Trail of Tears, what he did was seizing land from Cherokees, etc. However, the reason he was added to the $20 bill, apparently, was because he’s really kind of the first president who was for the common man. Everybody else was kind of seen as aristocratic, whether there was George Washington or Jefferson or Adams; they were kind of from the high class and he was from the blue-collar class. No question about it; so, he was seen as the common man.
Yeah, he was in the class that If you insult me I will shoot you.
Oh yeah. He’s known for being over 100 duels.
Yes, over 100 duels he was in, and in many of them, trying to defend the honor of his common-law wife. Yes, so much drama history there. But, one of the things I’ve heard from the Treasury is that they would slowly try to take the Jackson out of circulation.
And so, it’s not that they’re going to take up 800-whatever billion there are; they would start doing some of the new. So, whether it’s Harriet Tubman or whoever they end up going with, those would start circulating. And, they would start as they are collecting, as people pay for various things, just they kind of keep some of those Jackson instead of printing more of those.
Harriet Tubman Vs. Andrew Jackson
But, nonetheless, it is an interesting thing to see what’s going to happen. There’s a lot of people in our history worthy of honor. Harriet Tubman has some great stories.
In fact we’ve got a little biography book on her on the WallBuilders website. You can go and you can pick that up. And, there’s really simple some very impressive stuff: what she did with the Underground Railroad, in favor the Second Amendment, her faith.
She is a person worthy of honor for sure; although, as you mentioned, John Wise is as well that used to be known.
He is a good guy. But, I’m in favor of taking Jackson off. And, let me kind of close the segment with just reading something from the 1800’s, the most famous biographer of Andrew Jackson.
And back in the 1800’s, the biographies we tend to look at as a whole lot more neutral. They lacked the kind of bias and agenda that so many biographers have today, to make somebody look like a hero or heal. They just reported the facts. And so, this is the way that that famous biography reported on him and the 1800’s.
The biographer, James Parton, said that Jackson was both a patriot and a traitor; which is an interesting way to say it. This is what he said: “He was one of the greatest of generals, and he was wholly ignorant of the art of war. He was a brilliant writer… elegant… without being able to compose a single sentence correctly or spell words of four or five syllables.
“He was the first of statesman; yet, he never devised and never framed a single public-policy measure. He was the most candid of men and was capable of the most profound dissimulation;” which is kind of like the lying, cheating, stealing. “He’s the most law-defying, law-obeying citizen.
“He’s a stickler for discipline; but, he never hesitated to disobey his superior. He’s a democratic autocrat…an urbane savage…an atrocious saint.”
That’s a great description of Andrew Jackson. And so, I’m in favor of them coming off. You know, we’ll see what the Treasury Department does, as Tim mentioned; but, it’s just an interesting debate to have Andrew Jackson with anything basically today.
Time for a Break
Allright, guys, we’ve got to take a quick break. We went a little bit long. We’ll be right back with time for probably one more good question from our audience.
If you’d like to send one, send it into [email protected] Stay with us folks; you’re listening to WallBuilders Live on Foundations of Freedom Thursday.
Greatest Political Privilege
President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
Hi, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders and I want to encourage all the pastors out there with a unique opportunity that we’re presenting it WallBuilders. We’re doing a special tour just for pastors that you can come and learn more about the spiritual heritage of our nation. Not just seeing the sights but understanding the significance of what they are and what they represent.
We get to go to the Capitol at night. And we get to see the spiritual heritage of our Founding Fathers, of who we are as a nation, where we came from. We bring in congressman that will tell you about current legislation, about our religious liberties and freedom, and what’s going on in Washington, D.C.
If you’re a pastor or if you want to recommend your pastor for this trip, you can go to our website at www.WallBuilders.com. And there’s a link that’s for scheduling. If you click on that link there’s a section for pastor’s briefing. There’s more information about the dates, when it’s going, and how it’s going to happen. If you want to know more about our nation, our religious liberties, our freedom, our spiritual heritage, this is a trip you want to be a part of.
Questions of Power
Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live! Thanks for staying with us; we call this Foundations of Freedom Thursday. It is a chance to dive into your questions; send them in to radio at WallBuilders.com.
The Boston Tea Party
Next one comes from Keith. This one’s for David and Tim. It says, “I recently ran across an article that stated: ‘Colonists were protesting the British tax on imported tea, not because it was too high, but because it was too low. Britain was trying to create a monopoly for the East India Company, an English trading corporation.’”
Keith says, “I haven’t heard this before; I always thought it was because of high tax on the tea. Could you please expound and revisit the whole Boston Tea Party situation on Wall Builders Live!”
So, David, Tim, interesting question. Was the tax too low, and that’s why they were writing? Or, was it just because there was a tax at all?
Guys, I’m thinking of starting a protest. I saw my last pay stub, and I realized I’m getting a lot of money and should be taxed more. So, will you join me in my protest to say that we should have greater taxes against us?
Yeah. Any article that suggests that motivation is kind of off base. But, Rick, you hit it as well. It was not how big the tax was; it was simply that there was a tax.
And, it didn’t start with the Tea Party. You have to go back to 1765, with the Stamp-Act tax. And, the Stamp-Act tax says that whatever’s printed, whatever papers used for letters or stationery or newspapers or Bibles or anything, you’re going to pay a tax on it.
And, my recollection is this tax was something specifically imposed on the colonists, not even on all the people living in England, to the same degree the colonists were receiving it. And so, this is where they’re going, “Whoa, hold up. How are we–why are we being treated differently? We are part of the same kingdom; why are we being taxed for these kind of things?”
And, this is we’re also you see in the Declaration where they were frustrated with their representation. And, they would send delegates over; but, then they would change the meeting locations, and the king wouldn’t let people show up. S0, they were being just abused on all kinds of levels; but, part of it was because this tax.
That was exactly it. And, what they said is, “We don’t mind being taxed if we’ve got a voice in the tax; but, if you’re taxing and taking our money from us, that is stealing private property without our permission. If we elect people and send them to Parliament, and those people say as the elected representatives, ‘We vote for a tax,’ we can’t complain about that; because, we elected the people, they put a tax on us that was by our consent.
“But, we can’t elect people to go to Parliament. They don’t let us have representatives there, and they’re taxing us without us and stealing our private property.” That literally was the way they looked at it.
So, they got rid of the Stamp-Act tax; but, in the 1770’s, they came back with more taxes, and the colonies protested that. “It’s not that we’re being taxed; it’s that you’re taking our money. We have no voice in how much or whether at all.”
The Tea Tax
And, then came the tea tax in 1773. And, at that point they said, “No, we’re not doing this either.” So, the protest was not over the size of the tax; it was over the fact there was a tax.
It is interesting that when we refused to do tea, then tea started piling up in the warehouses in Great Britain. And, at that point, the British merchants went after the Parliament and after the King and said, “Man, you’re busting out our company here; we’re going under because we can’t sell the stuff that’s sitting in our warehouses. Why don’t you subsidise it?”
And so, what happened was the king said, “All right, we’ll subsidise it; we’re going to give you government money to make up for the loss you’re having because the colonists won’t buy tea. And,” he says, “by the way, I’m going to make the colonists buy tea.”
And so, what they did was they lowered the price of tea to where it was almost free because he wanted the colonists to buy it. Ben Franklin wrote, “We’re not gonna get the tea even if it’s free because it’s the principle. We are being taxed, and any tax at all violates the standard; we’re not going to do that.”
So, at that point, the king says, “I’m forcing you to;” and, that’s when he sent the ships to America to unload the tea whether we ordered it or not. And, that’s where we had the Tea Party is when the ships arrived.
They said, “No, we’re not letting those ships unload. We didn’t order the tea and are not buying the tea. We don’t want the tea and won’t take any tea until we get a voice in being able to tax ourselves.”
So, the whole issue with the Boston Tea Party was not the amount of the tea or the price of the tea or the size of the tax or anything else. It was over the fact that Britain was taking their private property without any input from them and whether should be taken.
They didn’t get any voice, and that’s the whole deal with the Boston Tea Party.
Send In Questions Like Those on a Balanced Budget Amendment or Taxes
Great question from Keith. Thanks for sending that in. Other folks who want to send questions in, send them in to [email protected], and we’ll try to get to those next Thursday on Foundations of Freedom Thursday.
There’s more of those questions answered at our website. You can if you go to WallBuildersLive.com and grab some of those there. If you’ve enjoyed this program and you’d like to learn more, again visit that website; but also, help us to get the information in front of as many people as possible.
You can do that by coming alongside us at WallBuilders.com and making a one-time contribution or becoming one of our monthly donors. Maybe you’d like to join us throughout the year. It helps us not only to do the program–this is obviously a listener-supported program.
That’s what makes it possible for us to be on hundreds of stations around the country; it’s people just like yourself listening right now that go online and make a contribution as best you can. And, now that’s what makes it possible. But, it also makes it possible for us to train pastors and young people and legislators and a lot of the other things we do to help restore America’s constitutional republic. And, we’d love it if he would be a part of that financially by contributing and allowing us to get this, again, in front of as many people as possible because you know what?
Everyone has a part to play. Every single American should be part of preserving this republic. Every citizen has a duty to learn these things and then to teach their neighbors their friends their family.
And, you can do that as well, both by sending out emails, taking this program and sharing it with other people, and also by contributing to the program so that we can do as much of that as well. Thanks for listening. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!
Liberties and Freedom Are Worth Defending
Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our Country and the freedom of our civil Constitution are worth defending against hazards. And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”