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

By   /   October 18, 2013  /   13 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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M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.

  • 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.