Friday, May 29, 2015

ALEC Wants to Educate High Schoolers on Balanced Budgets and Fiscal Austerity

ALEC Wants to Educate High Schoolers on Balanced Budgets and Fiscal Austerity:

ALEC Wants to Educate High Schoolers on Balanced Budgets and Fiscal Austerity



(Photo: Light Brigading)
(Photo: Light Brigading)



The right-wing push to amend the US Constitution by requiring a balanced federal budget is gaining momentum. In January, GOP Governor John Kasich of Ohio went on a six-state tour to rally support, and so far this year, New JerseyUtah and North Dakota have passed resolutions calling for a Constitutional Convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. By some counts, 27 states have passed such resolutions; 34 are needed to trigger a convention.
Ronald Reagan called for a balanced budget amendment in the 1980s, Newt Gingrich included it in the 1994 Contract With America. A year later, ALEC joined the fray with a model resolution for states. Those who advocate for an amendment often cite "common sense" concerns about "fiscal responsibility." But as history shows, the rhetoric often masks the outright hostility many proponents of the amendment have for key federal programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and for the regulatory infrastructure that protects consumers and the environment.
Plus, prominent economists warn that such an amendment could have catastrophic results during economic downturns and is exactly the wrong prescription for today's sluggish economy.
"A balanced budget amendment would force the government to reduce demand in the economy and eliminate jobs by cutting spending and/or raising taxes any time the economy slowed," Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic & Policy Research, told CMD, adding that "in an economy that desperately needs more demand to boost growth and employment, the promoters of a balanced budget amendment are working hard to push in the other direction."
ALEC has indeed been working hard, and now the corporate bill mill has opened up a new front in the decades-long battle for a constitutional amendment: high school kids.
The "Founding Philosophy and Principles Act" requires every student to take a semester-length course on the founding philosophy of the United States - with particular focus on "the limitations on government power to tax and spend and prompt payment of public debt." The bill recently passed in the North Carolina Senate in April, and is currently heading to the Assembly for approval. In March, the same bill was introduced in Georgia and South Carolina.
ALEC Advances Ideological Agenda
Approved by ALEC's board of directors in 2012, the bill is a more extreme and ideological version of a decades-old model - the similarly named Founding Principles Act that mandates a high-school course on the "founders' principles" of Federalism. Not content with the original model, however, Don Vaughan - a former Democrat state senator and longterm ALEC member in North Carolina - decided to turn what was largely a call for a conservative civics into a tutorial on the moral virtues of private property, balanced budgets and the gold standard by introducing an amended version of the bill.
In this version, student must be taught to exercise "eternal vigilance" against government spending. They will also be instructed on:
  • Freedom of individual enterprise
  • A virtuous and moral people educated in the philosophy and principles of government of a free people
  • Constitutional limitations on government power to tax and spend and prompt payment of public debt
  • Money with intrinsic value
Remarkably, none of these items are in the US Constitution, at least not inALEC Wants to Educate High Schoolers on Balanced Budgets and Fiscal Austerity:

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