For the first time in 25 years, Scott Walker isn’t an elected official.
But the Republican former governor -- who narrowly lost his re-election bid in Wisconsin last year -- has a new mission that keeps him engaged in politics: advocating for a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution.
“A child born today anywhere in America automatically inherits over $67,000 worth of the national debt,” Walker said in an interview with Fox News.
“And that’s only growing,” he said.
Earlier this year, Walker was named honorary chairman of the Center for State-led National Debt Solutions, giving him a platform to warn of the dangers posed by the U.S. national debt. The United States’ national debt currently exceeds $22 trillion.
“You can’t tackle the debt long term if you don’t start balancing the budget,” Walker said.
The group is urging states to get the ball rolling themselves: Under Article V of the Constitution, it takes two-thirds of (or 34) state legislatures to call a convention to propose an amendment. The group says 28 states have already called for a convention, and they’re determined to convince more states to join the effort.
Calling a convention and ratifying a new amendment is a tall order: it would take 38 states -- or three-fourths of state legislatures – to ratify it. But Walker said another route is pressuring Congress to ratify the amendment themselves, once more states sign on to demonstrate support.
“It’s a two-prong strategy,” he said. “We’ll take it either way.”
Conservatives have long called for requiring a balanced budget -- something some states already do. Then-President Ronald Reagan was known for his advocacy of an amendment, and there are several other groups working to draw support.
But warnings about debt and deficits have been largely overshadowed in recent years by higher-volume Washington fights over immigration, Iran, trade, Russian election interference, health care and more. Neither party has so far made fiscal restraint a rallying cry in 2020.
Walker, who unsuccessfully ran for president in the 2016 GOP primary, said he “would love” for President Trump or Vice President Mike Pence to “vocally support” the effort. Trump, in the past, has called for a balanced budget amendment but has not made a concerted push for it as president.
The idea has faced some resistance, even from those who want to see spending cuts: Some budget hawks concerned about the country’s debt have warned that the deficit will never be fixed until changes are made to Social Security and Medicare. Others have worried that a balanced budget amendment could be harmful during times of war or recessions, though some proposals include exceptions for these events.
“A child born today anywhere in America automatically inherits over $67,000 worth of the national debt."
But polling indicates voters in both parties remain concerned about debt. The federal government's budget deficit is projected by the Treasury Department to exceed $1 trillion, an increase from $779 billion last year.
The former Wisconsin governor told Fox News it was “a no brainer” for him to join the effort after leaving the governor’s office, noting that Wisconsin was the last of the 28 states to call for a convention.
In the interview, Walker signaled that he is open to running for office again someday. “As my wife has aptly pointed out, as long as it’s been in my blood, it’s hard to imagine that someday I wouldn’t run for anything,” he said.
Walker said he now spends his days writing a weekly column, giving speeches across the country, involving himself in GOP redistricting efforts and working with the National Taxpayers Union. He noted that Trump, who is 22 years older than him, has "completely changed the parameters for how long you can be in elected office."
"For me, it’s possible," Walker said of returning to public office. "I don’t write anything off. But for the next several years, I’m focused on these projects.”