Advocates See 2015 As Year Of The Balanced Budget Amendment

Supporters of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution believe they are in the position to win over enough state legislatures to force a national convention on the subject, putting it on the verge of being on a path to ratification and possibly making history at the same time.

For more than two centuries, every amendment added to the U.S. Constitution has originated in Congress, passing each chamber by a two-thirds vote. An amendment, however, may also be proposed through a convention that's called for by two-thirds of state legislatures, or 34 states. Regardless of how the amendment begins, it must then be ratified by state legislatures or state ratifying conventions in three-quarters of states, or 38 states.

Twenty-four states currently have active resolutions for an amendment that would make it unconstitutional for the federal government to run budget deficits, and activists hope to reach the threshold of 34 in 2015 by focusing on states with Republican-controlled legislatures. Following the party's nationwide sweep in the November midterm elections, a dozen states who haven't yet actively supported an amendment fit that criteria: Arizona, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Some states with split-party control are also being targeted: Kentucky and Maine.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell says the timing may prove an added impetus. 

"Republicans now control 69 of 99 legislative chambers. If it's ever going to happen, this is the time it's going to happen," O'Connell said. "Especially because 2016, as with all presidential election years, has higher Democratic turnout, if it doesn't net 10 more states in 2015 alone it might reach the threshold in early or mid-2016 if the polling looks favorable to Democrats."

"That being said, it's still going to be a tough lift," he added. "There doesn't seem to be a nationally coordinated effort. Kasich is visiting a bunch of states and there are some groups but the national party itself is not making this a priority. At least not yet."

Read more from Jesse Rifkin at The Huffington Post

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