Posted 12/16/09 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
How often have you heard someone say that members of Congress are just out of touch with their constituents and the American people? Probably more often than we would like to admit.
One would think that if people were unhappy with the Representative and Senators that are serving them in Washington, D.C., it would be relatively easy to just elect someone else. Right? Wrong! According to the U.S. Term Limit organization, the incumbency advantage for U.S. Representatives is 96 percent and for U.S. Senators it is 88 percent.
So once a person is elected to serve in Washington, D.C., barring death, a federal indictment or the rare retirement, how do the American people get new blood and fresh ideas in Congress? We don’t. We hear the same old safe political answers about fiscal responsibility from Congressmen while they go about spending trillions of dollars in new taxes, creating new government programs and taking care of special interest groups that help ensure that they stay in office.
And according to a recent Pulse Opinion Research Poll, the vast majority of Americans from all political persuasions finally believe that it is time for Congressional term limits.
And providing for those term limits is just what a group of U.S. Senators, led by South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint, is now calling for as they recently introduced a constitutional amendment that would apply term limits to all members of Congress. Under their proposal, members of the House of Representatives would be limited to three consecutive two-year terms in office and Senators to two, six-year terms.
Said DeMint, “Americans know real change in Washington will never happen until we end the era of permanent politicians. As long as members have the chance to spend their lives in Washington, their interests will always skew toward spending taxpayer dollars to buy off special interests, covering over corruption in the bureaucracy, fundraising, relationship building among lobbyists, and trading favors for pork—in short, amassing their own power.”
Surprised that you haven’t heard anything about this from your representatives in Washington, D.C.? You shouldn’t be. They are too busy passing massive spending bills and attending fundraising functions that will ensure their next election.
“Today, the U.S. has the longest serving members of Congress in its history,” says Philip Blumel, the president of U.S. Term Limits. And as a result of these out-of-touch career politicians, the United States’ fiscal house is on the brink of ruin and the national debt has never been larger nor the electorate more discontented with Congress.”
DeMint and his supporters are going to have a tough ride in getting this amendment through Congress as a constitutional amendment needs to be approved by two-thirds of the U.S. House and by an identical percentage of Senators before being sent to the states for ratification, where three-quarters would have to approve before it could become part of the U.S. Constitution.
Maybe it’s time for all of the disillusioned American voters to begin telling their Congressmen to get on board with DeMint and pass the constitutional amendment calling for Congressional term limits.
Will they listen? Probably not. But it would be interesting to hear their explanations as to why they think that only well-entrenched politicians in Washington, D.C. know what their constituents and Americans really want and why they are the only elected people who can do the job.