A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

The state of Michigan is joining a growing number of states that have lawmakers who plan to draft and pass an amendment to the federal constitution that would put states in the driver’s seat, and require their approval as “co-signers” before the federal government can increase the national debt.

If RestoringFreedom.org’s National Debt Relief Amendment becomes part of the U.S. Constitution, a majority of the states would have the power to dictate to Washington the terms and conditions of increasing the national debt. According to USDebtClock.org, the U.S. is $14 trillion in debt as of Jan. 12. That will cost each taxpayer $126,828 to pay off. 

Glenn Hughes, co-founder of RestoringFreedom.org in Texas, started the non-profit organization a couple years ago.

Michigan state Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, said he will soon introduce a joint resolution that will be modeled after RestoringFreedom.org’s model bill. McMillin pointed to the problems of debt-ridden countries such as Greece and Ireland.

“We need to get our spending under control,” McMillin said.

Hughes said he hopes to get enough states in line within three to five years, and that lawmakers in Arizona, Utah, Missouri, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Tennessee already have plans to get the process started. He said he needs 34 states approving resolutions to get a constitutional convention, and then 38 states to ratify the amendment.

Even though the proposal comes at a time when politics has become divisive, Hughes points to national polls that show reducing the federal deficit has across-the-board appeal. 

CNBC-AP poll from November found that 85 percent of those surveyed thought the federal debt will harm their children’s and grand children’s future.

“This is the common ground we found with Democrats, Republicans and Independents,” Hughes said. “The vast majority say we are headed for a cliff with this ever-increasing federal deficit.”

The original version of this story was posted online on Jan. 13, 2011.

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