Tom Coburn editorial Dec 2016

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A critique of Tom Coburn's editorial in late December 2016 that was published in many papers in Wisconsin:[1]

"Bring back balanced power to Washington" - headline

rebuttal: a Con Con is called and thus controlled by Congress according to Article V, so a Con Con would grant more power to D.C., and not take any power away from D.C.

... "The American people delivered Part Two of this lesson last month to the dumbstruck political establishment of both parties. Part Two was simple: the class of "agitators" is much larger than you thought - it consists of working class Americans across the nation, and their patience has run out."

rebuttal: then why did Coburn offer to challenge Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to deny the people their choice of the nominee?

... "Because most D.C. politicians are more D.C. politicians than anything else, chances are good that they'll get it wrong. I've spent plenty of time in those circles, of course, but since my retirement from the U.S. Senate in 2015, I've gone back to spending time among the grassroots of America. So I would like to offer my advice on how elected officials in both the states and the federal government can get it right, and how they must not get it wrong."

rebuttal: Coburn actually became a senior adviser to the Convention of States project.

"I have traveled the nation these past two years to encourage state legislators to trigger an Article V convention for proposing constitutional amendments to impose fiscal restraints on Washington, to restore the original meaning of constitutional limits on federal power, and to discuss the possibility of term limits for federal judges and other federal officials. In other words, I'm telling state legislators that America is desperate for them to use this one constitutional tool for re-balancing the power between the states, the national government, and the people."

rebuttal: Coburn should be explaining that there is no way to limit the agenda of a Con Con, and that the late Justice Scalia described it as a "horrible idea" to hold an Article V convention as the Convention of States seeks.

"Some of them get it, and eight states have already passed the Convention of States Project's resolution. America needs 26 more states to take this meaningful stand against federal overreach. ..."

rebuttal: Coburn should explain that the Republican national platform committee overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to include a call for an Article V convention in the platform. In general, 89% of Republican officials vote with the Republican platform, as they should.

"In fact, many grassroots activists I speak with are concerned that Congress may ultimately 'balance the budget' on the backs of the taxpayers or the states. They may be right. Would members of Congress really choose to risk losing their seats by ending pork barrel spending or cutting funding for popular programs when they could instead just raise taxes or issue more unfunded mandates to the states?"

rebuttal: Coburn is right that a "balanced budget" can become an excuse to raise taxes, so it would not justify holding a constitutional convention.

"The people aren't excited by a balanced budget. What they want is balanced power. They want Congress, the president and the courts to do what they were given to do under the Constitution. And they want the state and local governments left alone to perform other government functions in response to the needs of their own people."

rebuttal: the grassroots does not demand "balanced power." That is a contrived term of a small group of people pushing for a Con Con, funded by undisclosed donors having their own secret agenda. Coburn fails to disclose those secret millionaires funding this attempt to change the Constitution in unlimited ways.

Andy Schlafly


  1. See, e.g., Tom Coburn, "Bring back balanced power to Washington," The Reporter (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin) Pg. A7 (December 29, 2016).