LIMA — State Sen. Matt Huffman’s talk with the Lima Noon Optimist Club started with a history lesson on the Constitution and ended with a warning about the future.
The state senator spoke to the club during its weekly meeting Wednesday with a number of new faces in attendance — groups of high school students in the local Youth in Government program. The roughly 20 student participants shadowed a number of city and county officials throughout Wednesday morning in order to enhance the student’s understandings about local governance.
During Huffman’s first 10 minutes at the podium, he began his speech with a light-hearted talk on civics. As a state senator, Huffman said many people don’t realize that his job is in Ohio’s state legislature in Columbus, and that much of his knowledge of civics came post high school. To keep the crowd involved, he peppered his talk with historical trivia about the nation’s founding.
But Huffman’s recounting of United States early history quickly became a more serious examination of the national debt and how the United States ended up with more than $22 trillion in debt.
As Huffman explained it, because of the pressure of political groups, legislators will put together federal programs which are eventually used by outside groups to profit, and as programs are created, the budget expands.
“The program is created, and it grows from there and eventually people make a lot of money off of those programs. So right now in Washington, D.C., there’s a lot of people making a lot of money off of the federal government,” Huffman said. “If you want to know where the money is, it’s in DC.”
At the same time, the 21st century has seen a major expansion of the national debt.
“The debt has grown exponentially since Sept. 11, 2001, since 18 years ago. It didn’t just happen under President Trump. It didn’t just happen under President Obama. It really started under President George Bush, the second,” Huffman said. “Eventually, what will happen is the federal government won’t be able to pay for the things that they are paying for right now.”
While national politics concentrates on other matters, Huffman said the national debt continues to be an issue with no plan or solution to fix it.
“There’s no plan for the federal government to deal with the national debt. There is no plan,” Huffman said. “It doesn’t matter if we have Democrats in control or Republican in control because its the same group of people making lots of money from Washington.”
Huffman’s solution? A major convention organized by the states to offer a balanced budget amendment. To ratify new amendments, the Constitution requires 38 states to agree before an amendment is tacked onto the document.
The states, however, have a need for the federal government to stay in business, and the move could bring spending back into control without relying on the “guys and gals who are all in charge of the money and power in Washington,” Huffman said.
“There are a lot of things that should be in our Constitution. The president should be able to have a line item veto, in my opinion. The federal government should not be able to dictate terms for accepting federal money in certain programs. Some people want to abolish the electoral college. Some people want overturn Citizens United,” Huffman said. “For my money, if 38 of the 50 states thinks it’s a good idea, then we should do that. That’s the only real opportunity.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.