California's celebrated proposition 13 is all right for the timid, but if you're really serious about tax reduction, you might find H.J.Res. 23 more to your liking.
This House resolution would strike at the heart of the high tax problem by making the federal income tax unconstitutional.
The resolution, which has been in introduced in every Congress since 1952, is currently sponsored by Rep. John Rousselot, a conservative Republican from (where else?) California. It would repeal the 16th Amendment, which was ratified in 1913 specifically to authorize a federal tax on personal income.
H.J.Res. 23 is just one of dozens of proposals floating around Congress that would impose some kind of limit, a la Proposition 13. on federal taxes or expenditures. Although most have been "pending," with no evident progress for years, they are suddenly receiving renewed interest from members who must face the voters this fall.
All of the House's tax-limiting amendments have been referred to the Judiciary Committee, and have been consigned there to an inactive file reserved for ideas whose time has not yet come. Similar amendments introduced in the Senate have received similar treatment in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
But now supporters of the federal tax limitation hope that the national commotion stirred up by national commotion stirred up by Proposition 13, the vote to roll back property taxes, might lead to some action in Congress.
Rep. Andrew Jacobs Jr. (D-Ind.), who has been introducing budget-balancing amendments every few months for years, is soliciting signatures on a letter to Judiciary Chairman peter W. Rodino Jr. (D-N.J.) demanding hearings on the proposals this summer. Rep. Bill Archer (R-Tex.) has a similar letter in the works.
The two members expect to have more than 200 House members backing their demand within the next week. With that kind of support, they think Rodino would have to agree to hold hearings.
A Judiciary Committee aide said, though that is doubtful the unit could schedule any proceedings before the 96th Congress convenes next January.
The taxpayers union has already convinced 24 state legislatures, including Marlyland and Virginia to pass resolutions calling for a constitutional convention to consider an amendment requiring a balanced federal budget. Three more states seem likely to pass such resolutions in the wake of Proposition 13, according to David Keating of the taxpayers group.
If 34 states pass such resolutions. Congress would have to convene a national convention to prepare one or more constitutional amendments. The convention's proposals would then have to be ratified by 38 states to become part of the COnstitution.
The national convention mode of amendment has never used, and the thought of it sends shvers down the spines of many government officials and scholars. Some say that a constitutional convention could turn into a rogue elephant, ramming through amendments on a broad range of issues and sending them off to the states.
The taxpayers union, however, says that would not be the case. Keating notes that all the states that have called for a convention for a federal budget-balancing amendment have limited their resolutions to that specific topic.
"The votes clearly want a limit on federal spending," he says "Congress, so far, hasn't done anything about it. So the voters will find another way."