It is hard for me to believe when those brilliant fellows gathered to create our nation 236 odd years ago that they imagined the Unites States Congress functioning or should I say malfunctioning in the manner it does today. Among the ills Congress is bumbling through at the current time is a drop dead debt limit date, funding issues, regulatory messes and the usual lot of political mess. So why am I writing this hub? Because I want to discuss my ideas for Congressional term limits.
You see I imagine the men who wanted a two house system of government, known as a bicameral legislature to work together for the betterment of our republic. I do not see that and have seen very little of it during the forty odd years I have lived in the United States of America. To be frank with all my readers who come from other nations, I must say that I consider my life to be great, my opportunities limitless and I am not unhappy to be considered an American, but I can see potentially devastating problems to come if our legislative branch continues to act and react as they have become accustomed to doing.
Part of the reason government won’t work is a lack of compromise
Too often the overriding principle at work is to push the party agenda for the sake of party gains at the expense of constituents. With no looming exit for these men they have little accountability to worry about as they go about delivering legislation. So we, the people, wind up getting the shaft way too often.
Term limits – The President abides by them, why not congress?
In the United States Constitution there is a section that lists out the maximum term for the chief executive, our President. He cannot serve more than two consecutive terms, which equates to eight years. In my lifetime there have been a few presidents to do just this, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and others. Eight years is a long time for one party to hold power, no matter which it is.
If the party has the presidency and control of both houses of Congress there can be some work accomplished, even if it is slanted toward one particular political philosophy. Some would say some work is better than none, and at times it certainly seems that is a good opinion. This is about term limits, so I won’t continue to discuss the intricacies of that though.
Time and time again we see career Senators or Congressmen that do not seem to do much more than funnel pork barrel spending to their districts. They are not helping anyone other than those who will continue their run in Congress. Sure, they will gain favor with other members of Congress by aiding them in their hunt for pork, but are they making our country better? The confidence they have at being able to ride the golden train for their whole life has made them lazy about the country’s business. My solution is to impose term limits on Senators and congressmen that make them do real work before their ride is over.
Senators get two terms, House members get four
Under my proposal the members of the United States Senate would get a total of twelve years to make their mark. I know some will say even this is too generous, but there is an amount of time for a learning curve. By making their top amount of service time twelve years, a rotation system could be established so that there is the right mix of experience to blend with new members to have a functioning body.
For members of the House of Representatives eight years, the same as the president would be the limit. If you cannot accomplish good for your constituents in eight years you need to be replaced. I feel this would incentivize our legislators to not waste time bickering and blaming, but rather get some real work done to make our country better. Knowing their ride was short would make them devote their time to fixing broken pieces of the United States federal government.
Government Pensions would be tied to performance
In my plan the pensions paid to members of Congress would not be determined by years served, but by the positive impact of legislation offered by the legislator. Perhaps this will seem to be hard to quantify, but I think it can and should be done as another way to insure good legislation that makes an impact; for instance if legislation is passed that calls for more unfunded spending that would reflect negatively on the office holders pension multiplier. We should make the pain affect the legislative branch as much as those who pay the tax bill.
As it is there is a layer of insulation for these members of our parliamentary panels that will shield them from the harsh realities we who live on “Main Street” face every day. I think if the results of their works was directly proportional to them it was add another consideration when they took the time to craft their bills.
Campaign spending is ridiculously out of hand
Why would anyone think it is okay to spend over a million dollars to claim a seat in our Congress? Unfortunately that is the result of the 2008 election spending trend. According to the web site OpenSecrets.org, House seats cost an average of $1.1 million dollars to win while Senate seats were worth nearly $6.5 million in campaign funds. This is amazing and disturbing for an average tax payer like me who will never EARN one third of that. The amount of funds spent on senate and House of Representative campaigns is totally out of line. How much could be done with those funds that would have a longer lasting impact?
I am not naïve enough to think a campaign can run on a shoestring budget, but this is more like gold plated Gucci loafers if you ask me. The United States is considered a place where excess reigns supreme and in this case I think that opinion is justified. It is true we don’t have the fears of some countries where the president or members of government are likely to be assassinated to change the equation of who leads and the direction they do so. But we have our own issues, like a lack of positive movement in the area of legislation.
Term limits can give us another control of our government
We have little control of the government in my opinion. It is said you can always turn out a bum congressman when his election cycle turns over, but if he has sufficient money to smother his opponent, he or she is likely to stay in place. By setting term limits we would have new blood with new ideas to help us. Think about it before you totally dismiss the idea.