Term limits

I’m not a big fan of term limits on the folks who make laws.

On the President — who ought to be more of a figurehead than what we have made him to be these days (but that’s a rant for another time) — I don’t mind term limits so much, because the POTUS is still (for now) fairly limited on the damage he can do.

Term limits on legislators … not so much. The need to get re-elected, to appeal to as many of their electorate as possible, tends to kerb the enthusiastic excesses of most of our Congresscritters and Senatethings.

As bad as they are now, I shudder to think what would happen every cycle that a significant number of them know that whatever they do, whatever bill they pass, whatever law they promulgate can have — will have — absolutely no repercussions on their ability to get re-elected.

In other words, if we passed term limits today, there will be a legislative cycle down the road — say 8 years — in which every Congresscritter would be free to propose and vote on any bill without fear of backlash from their voters. Because they don’t have to pander for votes anymore.

That doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies, I’m here to tell you.

I am more in favour of a gradual approach. 

Write a law that says that any Congressman who has reached his/her 62nd birthday is ineligible for to stand for election; likewise for any Senator who has achieved his/her 68th birthday. Or pick any other upper age.

Hell, I’d be happy with Congresscritters being no younger than 25 and no older than 55; and Senators being no younger than 30 and no older than 60.

This would result in lawmakers lame-ducking out of office in a more piecemeal fashion, rather than a veto-proof majority — or entirety — leaving every 8 years, or twelve years, or whatever arbitrary time period is selected, and limiting the damage that will be done by lawmakers with no check on their ideological  enthusiasm.


Support Starving Authors

27 thoughts on “Term limits”

  1. I’m more in favor of x number of elections… Maybe three or four for the House, and two or three for the Senate. That would potentially give them either max of 8 years or 18 years in the Senate.

    1. 20 years in a federal elected office. When your 20 years is up, you’re out, mid-term or not. Only exception is if you are the President, in which case you can serve out the remainder of your current term in office.

      Also, everyone is housed in government run apartment complexes – 2 or 3 bedrooms, 2 bath. No fancy homes, so you can live on a salary that matches the average US salary. Paid travel that covers 3 round trips per year (business class) back to the airport closest to your home.

      Basically, I want to make DC a hardship posting, not a luxury one.

  2. Simply eliminating the 17th Amendment would fix many problems. The Senate would be back to representing their states, with the House representing the people.

  3. Hey Lawdog;

    The longer they stay in D.C in the Potomac the more they are sucked into the machine, the more they sell their soul, the more they accrue power and prestige, that’s is where the money is from the committee assignments. Gotta find a way to cap it and force them to abide from the rules they foist on the rest of us. I recall when in 1994 when Gingrich did his “contract with America” one of his planks was that whatever rules congress passes..they have to abide with along with the rest of America, well when the GOP lost their majority….that was stripped from the language and congress started writing exclusionary language again.

  4. Actually for the senate repeal the direct election of Senators. They were supposed to represent the interests of the states, thus them being controlled by the state legislatures. Nowadays they are not much less effected by the whims of the current mob than the House members.

    For the House, definitely an upper age or no more than a certain # of terms, I can see arguments either way, but something to keep them from being there until they die.

  5. I’m for term limits of 12 years in the house, 12 in the senate, 12 in the executive. I also think the bureaucrats should be limited to a set number of years, say no more than 20, then off to somewhere other than the feds. Exception for military command.

  6. Divemedic beat me to it on the 17th Amendment. It just meant that the gov’t had two Houses of Representatives, one with just a longer term.

    Also, California (Sacramento, actually) shows just how useful “term limits” are (spoiler alert: they aren’t). Politicians cycle through various elected positions, then their cronies appoint them to seats on various gov’t boards & commissions to continue their power.

    1. Addendum to my earlier post about term limits – once you’re out of office you are barred from serving on any federal board/commission/department/agency/what have you for a period of no less than one half of the time you served in office. Lobbying jobs are barred for no less than 80% of the time you served in office.

  7. I’d agree if I thought elections were honest.

    In the case of term limits they would face consequences. Once out of office they’d have to live under their laws as civilians.

  8. Legislators don’t control DC: DC controls them.

    The permanent bureaucracy is in control, and the faster that legislators turn over, the less power they have over the bureaucrats. (Not that they have much now, but they at least have a little.)

    As a member of THE most representative legislative body in the world (the New Hampshire House of Representatives, average of 1 rep per 3,500 residents), I have seen that even in our highly responsive legislature, with a relatively small entrenched bureaucracy, it’s difficult to get good legislation past the bureaucratic lobbyists.

    1. Reducing the power of lobbyists would also be a big help.
      IIRC, there was a legal change around 1973 that let them have a much bigger impact than they had before.

  9. You just have to look at CA to see what term limits do. No one is beholden to the voters. They are on a conveyor belt starting at the local level and brought along via patronage from the prior and current state office holders. I saw this occuring with a lot of the State Assemblymen and Senators riding the coat tails of the sitting US Senators and Representatives. Limiting the upper age would help limit the overly long tenures of some Congresscritters, but there also needs to be a limit on the Congress/Military/Lobbyist revolving door.

  10. My thinking is that those who make laws should be required to live in the society that they have created.
    Too many of them spend decades in politics, then retire on luxurious pensions…. the kind of money that renders them relatively immune from economic consequences or crime.

    Term limits sound like one way of bringing this to pass..

  11. Some other thoughts on limits:
    -Lincoln said “that government of the people, by the people, for the people” – Let’s try to do that
    -A Senator’s pay is the average pay of a worker in the US (want your pay to go up, do some good for the average citizen)
    -Build an apartment complex for the senators, each gets 1500 square feet while in town (or even smaller)
    -Walk to work, no government provided transportation.
    -Each Senator must have worked at a private business (as an employee) and paid taxes for at least 5 years before running – adjust as necessary. Law firms do NOT count.
    -Repeal the 17th and appoint Congress Critters at random from the above (no lawyers)
    -Limit length of time you can work for the Federal or State government (this is aimed at the Bureaucrats) to 10 years. Must have worked for a private business before being eligible for government employment.
    -Repeal all taxes and go with fair tax. Only people pay taxes, they are a cost to a business that is passed on to you. If people knew how much of their money was actually going to taxes we would have much more feedback. Also 90% of tax collected stays with the county, 9% to the state and 1% to the Feds.
    -Alternately for 1 month a year (or 1 day a week) you work for the government – corvee labor – don’t like the service at the DMV, talk with your neighbor who is assigned there. Need continuity – People between 60 & 70 eligible to become full time employees and supervisors

    People being people there are probably ways around this but hopefully the intent is clear even if the ideas are not.
    PS – I’m not a Lincoln fan. If an empire is held together by force then the United States ended with the Civil War and the Empire of the US began. But like any good politician he had a good line.

    1. While we are dreaming, I’d add:

      * In-session is limited to Jan & Feb and Jun & July — 4 split months only. We’ll fire up the HVAC in time for sessions and keep a light in the apartment windows during off-seasons.

      * The number of staffers is limited to 4, or pick a number you can count on your fingers. They are NOT allowed to work on agenda in the off season.

      * Staffers are not allowed to attend committee sessions or meetings among three or more politicians. Bring your memory.

      * The total number of elected politicians and their staffers in each party, in each chamber, must consist of a minimum specified number, TBD, of two-year-minimum military service veterans. The party manages who they are and the distribution. Independents must have two, either politician or staffer.

      * All laws, retroactively 10 years, apply to them, staffers and politicians, as well as the rest of the population.

      * Campaign funds are forwarded to the Treasury by 0001 hours on the day prior to election. Failure of receipt by 1300 hours that day results in removal from competition, a funds demand, a fiscal penalty, and 89 days in jail for the politician no matter reason for failure.

      * Voting in FEDERAL elections is limited to those who pay FEDERAL taxes. As little as a dollar counts, but if no tax, no club membership. Should go with a flat tax. VERY limited exceptions to be allowed in the code.

      * While on Fed taxes, as in you can’t buy back a weapon you never owned, if you didn’t pay tax you can’t get a return of money from the tax coffers. But I digress.

  12. Yep, term limits have proven in Louisiana to be the pox they were predicted to be. 3 terms and out of the legislative seat you hold. The first order result was to greatly empower the unelected folks who “work” for the legislature as staff. They have institutional knowledge of how to do things and use it, not always to the desired end of their elected masters. The 2nd order result was smart legislators who like power simply bounce back and forth every 12 years house to senate – and since they also know how to use the rules of the body they too become uniquely powerful and can tie either body in knots until they get what they want.

    I have a slightly more nuanced version – no elected official may keep one red dime in his campaign funds after the election is certified and they are all prohibited from family loans to their campaign funds unless the loans are fully paid off 30 days prior to election. No money or in kind contribution toward election may be accepted more than 365 days prior to election day. Any funds in the account escheat 1/2 to the general fund of the state where the official resides and 1/2 to the US National Park Service. Election funds thus serve to get elected, not to stay elected. Might help.

  13. The devil is in the details of how it’s written, of course, but I can tell you what term limits have meant in Florida. When a senator is term limited, they figuratively move across the hall to the house. When a representative is term limited, they move across the hall to the senate. The same applies for all the elected positions. The secretary of agriculture, who knows nothing at all about agriculture and got the job because she ran on legalizing pot, is now running for governor.

    And, yes, we’ve seen cases where R candidates run on being pro-gun and then when they’re term limited make deals with the Demanding Mommies because they bring biggest checks. Not to mention having a governor who says, “put a constitutional carry law on my desk” and the Republican led legislature won’t do it.

    The currency is name recognition because it looks like lots of people either vote by “I’ve heard of that guy,” or whether there’s a D or R after the name.

    I don’t really think passing term limits has done much for us.

  14. How about if an incumbent loses an election, they get sent to the wicker man to ensure a bountiful harvest next year?

    A less silly suggestion would be to make corruption a capital crime on par with treason.

  15. Term limits are just the beginning. Financial audits upon election and when leaving office. If you can’t manage your own funds, you shouldn’t manage the public’s funds. And extend the audit to family (Paul Pelosi, etc.). And be sure to look at non-monetary contributions/gifts (Hillary Clinton’s office furniture after her husband pardoned someone). Next, limits on the administrative help in Senate and House (Federal and State). Strip government employees of union membership (Thanks, JFK for that garbage). And if we find someone has rotated from military/public office/lobbyist firms, turn the IRS loose on them (mandatory audits). And audits for individuals, like Soros, the Koch brothers, and Gates; if they have enough money to make political donations, we need to look at how they obtain those funds. Term limits are just the beginning. 30 years in public office should never even cross their minds.

  16. The root of the problem is stupid voters and too much power in DC. Here are some partial solutions.

    Repeal 17th amendment-power back to state legislatures
    Eliminate ALL fed education funding-they teach compliance the narrative above all else
    Raise voting age to 25-frontal lobe development
    Must be a resident of the state 25 years to vote-anti carpetbagging
    Can’t vote if you get money from Fed, State or Local gov.-Welfare, retirement, paycheck, directly or from contractor
    No campaign contributions except from actual human eligible to vote in that election- no limits but 48 hr reporting

    1. I understand where you are coming from re the anti-carpetbagging, but that makes it hard on people who are moved by their employer and the military who have been in long enough to no longer need their parent’s address as their ‘home of record’.

      I can remember when the voting age moved from 21 to 18 due to ‘fighting in a war I wasn’t allowed to vote about’. So in a way, I’d almost like to put RH’s idea of ‘only a full citizen if you have served’ on the table.

  17. Increase the number of House members. Say 1 per 100,000; this puts them closer to the people they represent and gives each one less power individually(less valuable to lobby/bribe). Closer to how it was at conception. Have them meet remotely 1/2 the time and in person 1/2 the time.

    Pay them well while they are in office, but ZERO pension and benefits after they leave office.

  18. Ironically, I agree with the proposals to make the District of Columbia into the 51st state.

    Remember that the District of Columbia was originally created to prevent any state from having an undue influence on the federal government.

    I would argue that DC has enough attributes of a state that it is no longer a fit seat for the government.

    We have 4 functional ‘units’ of government in DC:
    – The house
    – The senate
    – The executive branch
    – The supreme court

    I would propose that each of those 4 units should be hosted by a different state. Every 2 years, ONE of those units should move to a different state; each unit would change states every 8 years.

    A couple of rules for the move:
    – Every state must have an opportunity to host a unit of government before any state gets to host a second unit.
    – Every state must have an opportunity to host a specific unit of government before any state gets to host it again.
    – No two units of government may be hosted by the same state at any given time.

    This would force the federal government to be more accessible to parts of the country that are not on the eastern seaboard.

  19. I would say this 1 each time you get elected roll a D20 (save the number) 2 when you hit your limit you go on trial for anything remotely illegal (yeah your immunity just went BUH BYE) after conviction add to your prison term each roll so 4 terms 3 7 8 11 = 29 ADDED to your prison term.

    I would accept a BAN on Public Speaking/Endorsements for not less than 10 years (writing a book would be CHEATING)

  20. Repeal the 17th amendment, implement schedule F. Prohibit elected officials from GS or contractor jobs and vice versa.

Comments are closed.