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Have at it: Is it finally time for federal term limits?

By   /   October 18, 2013  /   56 Comments

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON — Throw the bums out.

That’s the general sentiment of a lot of fed-up Americans after the latest Inside the Beltway meltdown — a 16-day partial federal government shutdown that seemed to only prove how little we really need our federal government and how much we loathe our federal lawmakers.

One of my all-time favorite dead tree news clerks was so frustrated this week she issued a challenge on her Facebook page: Why don’t we just stop re-electing these people and start over?

Throw the bums out — all of them.

.

THAT BAD, HA? Congress is now less popular than “Cop Rock.”

An Associated Press-GfK survey poll this week told us what we already know:  We don’t like Congress. Just 5 percent of the public surveyed approves of the job House members and senators are doing, and those 5 percent also liked Cop Rock.

But bum tossing en mass is about as likely as John Boehner and Harry Reid hiking together along the Appalachian Trail.

“Few things in life are more predictable than the chances of an incumbent member of the U.S. House of Representatives winning re-election,” notes the Center for Responsive Politics, a D.C.-based campaign finance tracker. “With wide name recognition, and usually an insurmountable advantage in campaign cash, House incumbents typically have little trouble holding onto their seats.”

Re-election rates have dipped no lower than 85 percent since 1970. House incumbents boasted a 90 percent winning record in 2012.

As much as voters complain about the dysfunction of government, they seem awfully set on returning to office the people who, arguably, are causing the dysfunction.

But maybe, just maybe, Congress can help.

Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., became the latest federal lawmaker to propose a constitutional amendment calling for term limits on congressional members.  Representatives would be limited to three terms and senators to two terms under the amendment.

Like others before it, the proposal has very little chance of making it out of the constitutional amendment process alive.

But maybe, just maybe, shutdowns and fiscal cliffs and debt ceilings and ballooning national debt and bankruptcy bound entitlement programs might up the ante on the term limit dream.

So, today we ask you: If we can’t throw the bums out, can we at least limit their stay?

Is now the time for term limits in Washington, D.C.?

Have at it.

Contact M.D. Kittle at watchdog.org

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Kittle is a 25-year veteran of radio, newspaper and online journalism. In July 2011, Kittle joined Watchdog.org as bureau chief for Wisconsin Reporter. He has spent much of the past three years covering the seismic political changes taking place in the Badger State. Last year, Kittle joined Watchdog’s national reporting team, covering everything from energy policy to governmental assaults on civil rights. Beyond being published in Wisconsin’s daily newspapers and in multimedia news outlets, Kittle’s work has appeared on Fox News, and in Human Events, Reason Magazine, Newsmax and Town Hall. His special investigation into a politically charged John Doe probe, “Wisconsin’s Secret War,” was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze. Kittle has made several appearances on Fox News, including “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. He serves as weekly politics commentator for Lake 96.1 FM in Lake Geneva, and WRJN-AM 1400 in Racine. His resume includes multiple awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, Wisconsin Broadcast Association and other journalism associations. Contact Kittle at mkittle@watchdog.org.

  • Doctor-x

    Agreed … we do need to throw most of them out.
    Additionally: No golden parachutes either, they supposedly are performing a service to this country, they shouldn’t be getting rich in the process.

  • Debra Blakley Weasner

    They are all over-rated and over paid. Get them out and adjust the pay for the next group !!!

  • danny.robertson

    2 terms

  • pawanna

    the only ones that don’t want term limits are the politicians – they want all the power and money they can get – not to mention all the benefits…. they need to change their benefits before the touch SS and Medicare…but, alas, they will never vote to put themselves out of a job…

  • danny.robertson

    They don’t do there jobs an still from the country an the ppl. 2 terms. No retirement must pay into SSI. No kind of work with or for someone else doing federal work. State work. For10 yr.

  • madgrandma

    Absolutely! and no big bene packages either!

  • Drew

    Everyone realizes that term limits are limiting democracy. What if I want the same person to represent me in congress for 16 years? Are you going to tell me I can’t vote for them? All term limits do is give more power to lobbyist and make politicians seek a different office, but staying in public life. This is one of those ideas that everyone rallies behind without considering the actual implications. If you want real reform change redistricting.

  • Dan Liftman

    Absolutely correct. I hope more people realize that term liimits are a bad idea. For all the reasons you’ve stated.

  • Jody Logan

    Isn’t this our country Don’t they work for us? With voter fraud so rampant, no one really wins anymore anyway.

  • Dennis Hand

    You bet, In Mark Levin’s recent book the Liberty Amendments, he suggests 12 years total between either house. I wouldn’t want to see anything longer than that.

    He also suggest repealing the 17th amendment and returning the appointment of Senators to the state legislators as the founding fathers designed it. I firmly support this idea too.

  • Dennis Hand

    So, would you support repealing the Presidential term limit amendment? Imagine BHO as a 3, 4 or more term President. Term limits would actually reduce the power of lobbyist as members of Congress would no longer be looking for a life time job. Maybe they would pay attention more to what the people want and less to what the special interest want.

  • Fred Chittenden

    You shouldn’t be able to run for office while holding office. It’s a lot harder to collect campaign funds when you have no power to exercise…

    Even better might be to require more time working in the private sector or military as working for a gubermint paycheck…

  • John

    Just as important as Constitutional Term Limits are:

    1- Repeal 17th Amendment

    This will force Senators to work for their states instead of for PAC lobbyists
    Repealing 17thA will return the voice of the State to DC and help reduce size of Fed Gov.

    2- Constitutional Amendment to provide for RECALL of Senators.

    When we enacted the 17thA, we never modified MO Constitution to enable recall of Senators.

  • John

    The House is 2 year terms, limiting them to 2 terms (4 years) would be too severe. (The senate would be 12 years and the President is already 8)

    I have always advocated 12 years in each chamber, with the potential of 24 years total.

    Mark Levin, in Liberty Amendments, suggests 12 years total.

  • John

    The first problem with your post is that we are a “Constitutional Republic” We are NOT a Democracy.

    The second problem, which you identify without realizing it, is that we need to Repeal the 17th Amendment.

    Repealing the 17th Amendment would restore Senate control to State Legislatures – As it was designed to be. By doing that, you would virtually eliminate PAC influence over night.

    The House was designed to represent the People.
    The (upper chamber) Senate was designed to represent the ‘separate but equal’ States.

    The 17th Amendment broke that, and directly broke the senate, leaving it vulnerable to PAC influence and diluting any influence the People have over their Senators.

    Repeal 17th Amendment and PAC power dissipates.
    Repeal 17th Amendment and it becomes cheaper to challenge an incumbent Senator – thereby reducing (if not eliminating) the need for term limits.

    The 17th Amendment made it virtually impossible to replace a Senator until they are ready to retire – unless they do something to really offend a majority of the state.

    The 17th Amendment made election to the Senate a life-time career position.

  • John

    I voted NO on your post. Not because I disagree with the thoughts behind your post, but because I disagree with how you stated it.

    Not being able to campaign would effectively limit all politicians to 1 term.

    It can take more than 2-3 years to overcome the damage caused by previous administrations. Limiting a President to 1 term is no less harmful than removing term limits, for exactly the opposite reason.

    Term limits, among other things, prevent a politician from making it a career, from building a power center, and from having undue influence over his office/chamber.

    In contrast, excessively short terms can result in an instability that could cause the direction of the country to change too frequently. This would be detrimental to business, stock markets and other economic interests that need ‘stability’ for long term planning and outlook.

    Repealing the 17th Amendment would actually be more helpful than Term Limits.

    Repealing the 17th Amendment would make it much cheaper to run for Senate and would open the campaigns up to people who are not wealthy and don’t have PACs backing them.

    Repealing the 17th Amendment would encourage turn over in the Senate and would dramatically reduce PAC influence – almost overnight.

  • jacklohman

    YES! Let’s double the length and limit them to *ONE* term. The corruption starts at the second term… getting re-elected costs money. AND public funding of campaigns! I want these bastards working for me and the country, not David Koch. I don’t care what the constitution says. And the media is part of the problem. 80% of the campaign bribes filters down to ads… they are not going to lift a finger to stop the corruption.

  • Jim Cook

    Voter fraud rampant Where are you getting these facts? I cannot remember the name of the study but voter fraud is less than 1% IN THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES IN EVERY ELECTION from dogcatcher to the president! That is whats wrong is the GOP trying to limit voting. In Australia(a former penal colony) everyone is REQUIRED TO VOTE BY LAW! We barely have 30 % of our entire population voting! And we are land of the free? Really? Voting is to be INCLUSIVE NOT EXCLUSIVE! Remember our history, wrote right in the Constitution that blacks are only 3/5ths of a person? So you want to limit others voting? We should and NEVER think of restricting voting, IT SHOULD BE EXPANDED!! SO ALL PEOPLE ARE REPRESENTED!! Do you realize in every election enough people DONT VOTE that if they did they could VOTE EVERY ELECTED OFFICIAL OUT OF OFFICE.

  • Joe Flatulence

    Will it make a difference if support term limits? we don’t vote on the limits. the congress and senate do and they are not going to limit their plush seats and benefits.

  • palintologist

    National stats show 80% of R’s favor term limits, with 78% of D’s agreeing. This Virginian (in link below) has had enough and is waging a one-man campaign across the Commonwealth to gather signatures to present to egomaniacal politicians to show that their constituents DO want term limits, and we want them as part of the state constitution.
    You won’t get the federal office holders to vote themselves out of office, but you can make a start with your state reps and have it work its way up.
    http://www.vatermlimits.com

  • jamez j

    Jim you’re making a mistake that is very common in our country. I make it myself regularly. Polls are just samples and depending upon sample makeup and who wrote the questions, they can say anything. Polls are not facts, but estimates.
    That said, reported voter fraud is the only thing that could be polled. To vote in my district, I only need a name and address to vote. I can say I’m anyone. Homebound neighbor, guy who moved a few months ago, old guy who never votes and it will never be detected.
    Conservatives want everyone who is a legal citizen to vote once. Plain and simple verification.

  • rjt

    I am undecided about term limits but I have long desired an age limit as to when a representative must retire – perhaps 65 or maybe 70. Some are getting in because their name is recognizable too so in that respect term limits might be good. However, I do have to say I don’t like the “throw them all out” view. There actually are good representative in the Congress so if those wanting to do that, they had better make damn sure they know the voting record of whom they want to toss out as they may just be voting the way they want them to. Sadly, a lot of people vote based on what they hear and not actually doing their own research, when they hear something, to see if what they hear is true or not.

  • Jim Cook

    I was not going from any poll James. Dont like them. And i agree stats are not facts, but it was a study by a conservative group trying to show rampant voter fraud. It didnt, thats why it was not used. Plan and simple, verification used to be called Jim Crow laws! My favorite president, Ronald Reagan, said people that use stats have no facts. Love it! Im sorry James but this thinly veiled attempt at voter ID is to limit voting, not to protect it. When you say legal citizen are you sure it doesnt really mean WHITE legal citizen? It clearly targets the poor and minorities.

  • SamIamHis

    I am very much for term limits. Yes we would lose good people, but we would also get rid of bad ones regularly and not be plagued for half a century with sluggards who gain power and vote themselves benefits and raises and say they represent us. The bad individuals would not have a chance to become part of the “mafia” network where nothing happens unless you do it their way. The good ones would be able to operate honorably and give us their full service. 6 years for a senator and 4 years for a representative should be enough time to give a person to do their job and not spend any of their time campaigning. The term limits should also include an exclusion from campaigning for others while you are in office. You are there to do be a public servant and complete your job, an idea that seems to be lost on so many.

  • Shaner

    I am for term limits and also for their benefits based on achievements. This was brought up by Judge Janeen, that if the debt owed is higher when they leave office then when they come in they should not receive further benefits. They can live on social security like the rest of the public. This should also apply to the President. I believe any raises to congress should be approved by the taxpayers. Businesses have gone through and done employee cuts across the board, why not do this in the government. All perks such as the health club, spas, special restaurants should have a fee which makes them self supporting, not taxpayer funded.

  • BEATRICE

    Sure do. And since when should they be able to vote their own raises and retirements and exemptions to law without the voice of the people being heard? It really is time for a change with the government not being able to give benefits to their supporters and buy votes with the peoples’ money. The corruption needs to stop in both parties so the entire populace can be justly represented. no more government rewarded contracts or segments of the populace being designated more important than another. ENOUGH OF THIS IN BOTH PARTIES.

  • Frank from Schaumburg

    Lets vote the bums out and lets get term limits so we don’t create new ums.

  • 73-yr-old grqndma

    Term limits should always have been place! Seems to me, if I understand anything at all about the constitution, that our founding fathers never intended for serving your country as a rep. or sen. to be a full-time cushy job for a few select elitists!!!!!!!!!

  • paco12348

    Congress has turned itself into Unions. The Republican Union and the Democrat Union. No different than the Labor Unions. Instead of working for the American people they work to keep their seat in Congress and to fill their pockets.

  • Ruth E

    it seems easier to just vote for whoever is in office, then “we the people” don’t have to go looking for information on anyone running against the person in office

  • del

    All but Cruz, Lee and Rand should be retained…the rest can go to prison for ruining our once great country with treason, fraud, and murder4

  • del

    It isnt now …its only part time and these incompetent idiots have ruined everything even in their part time….now they need to go find real jobs and buy this horrid health care they are trying to foist on us!

  • Darryel

    Term limits on elected officials would be good, but the one’s that are killing us with the 2 and 3 thousand page bills and loopholes and backdoor laws are the appointed people. When someone gets elected they give all of their cronies jobs in the government. When the elected people leave office, guess who stays in their crony jobs. I would bet that we still have people from the Johnson administration working in DC. Appointees are harder to get rid of than Supreme Court Justices.

  • RubyTwoThree

    I would go for it, this career politician stuff has to go. But remember this idea has gone around a few times, the people that have to vote for it are not going to do it, they want to keep their jobs. I think cut a Senators term to four years instead of six would be helpful. And I would like to see age limits as well. There is nothing noble about seeing an elderly person being propped up and having his staff behind the scenes making decisions for him because he is incapable of doing it. I also think some of the people we have representing this country are absolutely off their rockers, either mentally, or by just sheer incompetence. I often ask, how do these people get elected? Guam will tip over? I recently read a post that said politicians are people that didn’t make it in the private sector. I believe there is truth in that.

    There needs to be a test, if you can’t past the test, then you can’t run for office, and part of that test is knowing the Constitution. if you don’t know the Constitution you can’t run. And one’s mental status has to be checked out by a non-partisan doctor. When was the last time we heard anything about Obama’s health check up by a doc? Past presidents have their annual physical announced. Obama is definitely mentally ill.

  • victoria terpin

    it really is a shame that with as many bright young people, we have to keep re-electing losers. We complain about misrepresentation and, yet, we keep on electing them until they croak. Not acceptable!

  • Fred Chittenden

    There’s nothing that says one can’t serve multiple terms when you can’t run for office while holding office. This rule would mean there would be no distractions while in office collecting donations for your next term — you’d focus on getting your job done in that term.

    Given the devious nature of many contemporary politicians, there’d be no quitting mid term to run for the next term’s office… Perhaps require a two (or four?) year hiatus of work outside of gubermint paychecks that starts at the end of the maximum term of any previous gubermint position or job? I’d extend such a rule to nominated and burrocratic positions too.

    Government power shouldn’t be a spring board to acquiring more government power.

    Term limits doesn’t provide this important fix to the political system. The intense lobbying and buying campaign contributions for crony campaign deals that corrupts office holders would continue, largely unabated with term limits.

    FYI, Jefferson wrote on this issue… Something like this idea was actually put into Pennsylvania’s preUS constitution, chaired by Ben Franklin — A 3 year term followed by a 4 year hiatus. Wikipedia “Term limits in the US”.

  • Someone

    Hang the scum

  • AbleAmerican1

    Term Limits for the U.S. Supreme Court must ALSO be included in this issue..The present Liberal additions are a PRIME example of this necessity..

  • USCBIKER

    I agree on SCOTUS limits. The only problem with “throw the bums out” is no matter what party is in power, govt. grows, deficit grows and our freedoms diminish. If the Dems weren’t such pussies, we could take from each party and form a 3rd that would win big. But a party of lazy minorities and white guilt dweebs who fear them and need their votes is very tough to dissolve.

  • AbleAmerican1

    Ruthie..Ruthie..Ruthie…Your reasoning expressed here is the VERY REASON our country is in a state of bankruptcy, ( 17 trillion & rising ), moral & ethical demise..The current administration has PUT THAT AGENDA ON STEROIDS..by creating over a 50% ( Gimmee my FREE STUFF ) PARASITE Government dependent population..& their kids are being raised to further flaunt that agenda..

  • John

    That’s not true. If we amend the Constitution for term limits, it would be more than just ‘law’.
    We would decide the term limits when we pass the amendment.

  • John

    Fixing the political system is largely accomplished by repealing the 17th amendment.

    Go research what the 17th amendment changed and learn why & how it BROKE our Senate.

    Read Madison in Federalist 63.

  • Luckystar

    Not only term limits, but a TAX that all these people, including the president, on all speaking engagements-maybe 50%? They became famous through their service to the country. Wouldn’t take long, and the treasury would be full again.

  • madmilt

    It was time for Federal term limits when the Constitution was drafted.

  • tracymae

    Re-read what you wrote.

  • tracymae

    They should not get extravagant retirements, receive Obamacare, subject to social security and not be allowed to work as or for any lobbying firm for 10 yrs after retirement.

  • Eugene Barufkin

    Lets get serious and make a major change.
    Three (3) year terms for House members and 1/3rd elected each year with the three (3) term reelection limit.
    Thus more chance for turn over every year.
    Up to nine years of experience. (Six is to short)
    A little less emphases on reelection with a three (3) year term.
    And – Lets reelect 1/6th of the Senators every year, rather than 1/3rd every two years.
    We need to keep Congress churning, coming to a consensus, on their toes listening to the “American People”, all the time not just every two years.

  • Eugene Barufkin

    Six year term limits is very short for electing leaders with experience.
    This includes the person who is two (2) hearts beats away from being the President.

  • Eugene Barufkin

    Why should get paid anything for doing their job and describing to the public what’s going on in govt?

  • Eugene Barufkin

    Twelve years should be enough for an experienced learnerd person.

  • Eugene Barufkin

    THINK – Cruz

  • Ruth E

    lol ableamerican1, was just saying that is people’s attitudes, didn’t say it was mine, hope you are having a great sunday

  • art martinez

    I strongly agree in term limits and I think congress should be fined $10,0000 a day for each day they shut down.

  • AbleAmerican1

    The 50+ % of parasite gimmee stuff population will compound itself by a quantum leap if Obama gets his Amnesty agenda implemented..I personally believe that voter fraud ..supported by George Soros’ $$$ by illegals as the basis for “Pinocchio’s” achievements & Harry Reid’s despotic control of the Senate..condoned by th likes of RINO’s McCain & Graham..etal. Change can ONLY come when TRUE Conservatives gain a majority in the Senate & maintain majority in the House..OTHERWISE!!!

  • danny

    Bad plan. You would have to have a congressional election every year. Two four-year terms might work. A better plan would be to have a national lottery and if you are unlucky enough to be picked you would have to serve just as if you were selected for the military draft. I bet you would get as good or better Congress members! They could live in military-type barracks in D.C. But that wouldn’t happen because it would considered cruel and unusual punishment!

  • Mary Buehrig

    Knowing they will have to go home after their term will inspire Congressmen to do more for the good of the country and less to line their own pockets.