Congressional term limits – not so fast

There’s another attempt at congressional term limits.  This arrived a week or so ago:

The Florida legislature today officially called on the U.S. Congress to pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment limiting Congressional terms in office.

Nationally, the support for term limits remains strong with 78 percent of Americans supporting congressional term limits according to a September 2010 poll conducted for FoxNews by Public Opinion Dynamics. Support is strong across partisan lines with 84 percent of Republicans favoring the idea while 74 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Independents also support limiting congressional terms.

Ostensibly it’s to cut the dead wood out of Washington but Washington’s major problem is it’s infested with Them and so a sick, incestuous, narcissistic culture is in place. I can’t see that altering, just because of term limits. This call by Florida is seen as the game-changer but IMHO, it ain’t gonna change ’nuffin.

Interesting points by New American:

Do we really want to throw all of the bums out of Congress via term limits — or just the other guys’ bums? Indeed, is every Congressman a bum? And if every person sent to Congress is a bum, whose fault is that?

Somehow, it doesn’t seem right that voters, exercising their collective will through Congress, should restrict who voters in other states are allowed to vote for. Yet, that is exactly what term limits would do. Each state already has its own built-in term-limit rule in the form of elections. The voters can throw the bum out after a single term, or they can keep sending him to Congress for 50 years if they wish to do so.

Term limits also take away the major means of control that the citizens have over their Representatives: elections. The possibility of being thrown out in the next election is the most potent motivator and means of accountability for politicians. In a system of a fixed number of terms, a certain percentage of the Congressmen are lame ducks during their final congressional term, and the people lose their leverage to keep their Representatives on good behavior.

Here’s the pro-case, pretend-packaged up as fair choice. I’d trust your rhetoric-antennae are in good order and receiving:

List of Arguments in Favor :

1. Overwhelmingly, voters prefer term limits. (It’s their native commonsense!)
2. Term limits downgrades seniority, favors meritocracy.
3. Increases competition, encourages new challengers.
4. Builds a ‘citizen’ Congress, drives out career politicians.
5. Breaks ties to special interests.
6. Improves tendency to vote on principle.
7. Introduces fresh thinking, new ideas, eliminates ‘old bulls’.
8. Reduces power of staff, bureaucracy, lobbies.
9. It will create a natural reduction in wasteful federal spending.
10. Encourages lower taxes, smaller government, greater voter participation in elections.
11. There are more reasons in favor of term limits than reasons against.
12. Gets reelection rates back to near 50%, versus the current 99%. (Founders called it “rotation in office”)

List of Arguments Opposed :

1. Terminates the good politicians along with the bad.
2. Instead of term limits, a reform of Congress’ procedures would be easier.
3. Reduces range of voter choice.
4. Loss of knowledge and experience.
5. Increases the power of staff, lobbies, and bureaucracy.

Stateline adds the following:

“Instead of leveling the playing field between the legislative and executive branches, term limits have weakened the legislative branch in relation to executive power,” says Karl Kurtz, director of state services at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). This power shift is most apparent in the budget-making process, he said.

I think one should always be wary of vast enthusiasm cross-party for some new initiative which affects a national government. Given, as we know, they are in it for their own power-entrenchment, the obvious question is just who are the winners and losers in this?

As far as I can see, the winners are the executive and the state bureaucracies or rather, their permanent heads. To the people, I would ask if they feel they can be better served by someone who now has a grip on the job or by some newbie who needs to learn the ropes?

And look at the corruption in the Tory Party, with all the new hopeful parachutees willing to do whatever Dave says, whereas the wily old dogs are less easily ridden over.

1 comment for “Congressional term limits – not so fast

  1. March 23, 2012 at 18:27

    Personally, I would prefer term limits.
    The founders of the Constitution did not believe in professional politicians; their view was that intelligent motivated people would serve for a while in helping run the country, then would go back home and do what they used to do. To them it would be horrifying to see what has happened. There is a fine line between symbiosis and parasitism, which today’s politicians have crossed.

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