Term Limits: Yes Or No?
Term limits for politicians becomes a major topic after every election. Why do we keep sending the same people back to congress expecting different results?
Why not limit the terms of our Senators and Representatives? Would it change anything?
How Long Is Too Long?
Top Five Current Senators In Years Served
- Patrick Leahy (D) 1975 – 43 Years
- Orrin Hatch (R) 1977 – 41 Years
- Thad Cochran (R) 1978 – 40 Years
- Chuck Grassley (R) 1981 – 37 Years
- Mitch McConnell (R) 1985 – 33 Years
Top Five Current House Members In Years Served
- John Conyers (D) 1965 – 53 Years (Resigned – Sexual Allegations)
- Don Young (R) 1973 – 45 Years
- Jim Sensenbrenner (R) 1979 – 39 Years
- Hal Rogers (R) 1981 – 37 Years
- Chris Smith (R) 1981 – 37 Years
If these folks were in prison (some think they all should be) you would call them institutionalized. They’re so deep into politics it’s doubtful they can even remotely identify with the rank and file voter.
Then There Are The Pension Plans.
The U.S. government maintains two retirement systems for their employees—the Federal Employees Retirement System and the Civil Service Retirement System.
CSRS employees do not participate in Social Security. FERS employees do as one of the three components of their retirement plans.
Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at the age of 62 if they have completed at least five years of service.
Members are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service.
Current Congressional Pension Plans
There were 611 retired Members of Congress receiving federal pensions based fully or in part on their congressional service as of October 1, 2016.
Of this number, 335 had retired under the Civil Service Retirement System and were receiving an average annual pension of $74,028 ($24,994,805/year for all).
A total of 276 Members had retired with service under the Federal Employees Retirement System and were receiving an average annual pension of $41,076 ($11,336,244/year for all) in 2016.
For a grand total to taxpayers of $36,331,049 per year and a bunch more are looking to retire. This figure does not take into account any additional benefits that might be part of the pension package such as healthcare.
Increasing the number of people into this retirement system using term limits without some reform would be even more ridiculously expensive than it already is.
Getting a five-figure yearly lifetime pension after five years of service? Where do I sign up?
Some Final Thoughts
The big hurdle with term limits is not the term itself but the retirement benefits after one leaves office.
If Senators and Representatives were limited to two terms like the president the retirement roles and pension payouts would swell to the breaking point.
Term limits do work for the president, governors in some states, and other offices but there are some down sides too.
Term Limits would get bad people out of public service but good ones too. Is that trade off worth it? Comments below.