Term Limits

By John Lumbard.

To the right of this article you’ll see the pledge that we’d like every candidate to take, promising to establish legislation that would guarantee balanced budgets in the future.  We think that this sort of approach—forcing the Congress to do its duty—is necessary, even if the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility offers up a platter full of good ideas for reducing the budget gap.

The truth is that the bipartisan commission would do well to merely reduce the deficits for each of the next five years.  They don’t have a prayer of dealing with the long-term consequences of the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation, because every budget cut and every tax increase will ignite fierce opposition.  We will find ourselves with huge deficits again in little more than a decade. 

It would be a lot easier to get the voters—even a supermajority of voters—to sign off on the idea that we must take whatever steps are necessary to balance our budgets and limit federal spending.  There is no magic to the five points of our proposal (we wouldn’t mind adding the “include sunset provisions with all legislation” item that congressional candidate Jennifer Horn put in her own five-point proposal), but we wouldn’t want to pin all our hopes on a Balanced-Budget Amendment.  It will have to offer flexibilities—for war and times of recession—that can be exploited by a clever Congress.

The item in our pledge that we worry the most about is the one that argues for Term Limits.  Why would a candidate for Congress want to sign up for that???  And the truth is that there are good legislators in Washington, and that they would be kicked out of office too soon.  

Nevertheless, it only takes a few bad apples—congressmen using every trick in the book to entrench themselves in office—to send rot throughout the barrel.  Most of our budget problems came about because congressmen bought votes via promises of increased entitlement spending and earmarks, or bought campaign contributions by giving away tax breaks.  We need a new kind of candidate, who goes to Washington knowing that he’s signing up for a limited tour of duty serving his country.

The truth is that Washington, in the next decade, will not be any fun at all for legislators who are working in the best interests of the taxpayers.  They’ll have to make unpopular decisions every day, and the last thing they would want is fierce opposition from old war horses who only have their own best interests in mind.  Let’s help the true public servants by pushing out the self-serving elite, and let us also discourage those who want to go to Washington to enjoy a lifetime of power and privilege.

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1 Comment
  1. Kevin Dalphonse says:

    “The item in our pledge that we worry the most about is the one that argues for Term Limits. Why would a candidate for Congress want to sign up for that???”

    FYI, Rand Paul just won the Republican primary for Senate in Kentucky and he supports term limits.

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