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The Pros and Cons of Congressional Term Limits

South Korean President Lee Addresses Joint Meeting Of Congress
(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

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Every election year the same issue raises its ugly head — term limits. How long should our politicians be allowed to hold public office?

Many of our congressional members have held office for 30 years or more. There is no real proof that the founders looked at public service as a career.

The idea was that you serve your country for a brief period then go home and contribute to the country economically in some way.

But over the years, being in public office at the highest levels have proven to be too lucrative to abandon a cushy 109-day work year for a 260-day hard work year.

It’s Not My Guy It’s Your Guy

All politics are local. So of course our own elected officials that we send to Washington are not the problem.

If they would just stop sending John McCain, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Sumer, Mitch McConnell and others back every year maybe we could get something accomplished.

In the last election 96.4 percent of incumbent politicians were returned to office. Most were reelected on name recognition alone rather than their voting record.

And of course we didn’t want to lose their influence on the various committees and their ability to bring pork back to our state.

So the beat goes on.

The D.R.I.P. Movement

Radio talk show host, and former mayor of San Diego, Roger Hedgecock created the DRIP program. DRIP stands for Don’t Reelect Incumbent Politicians.

Most everyone who hears of such a program agrees with it. But yet when they step in that voting booth the pros of a known entity outweigh the cons of an unknown.

Presidential Term Limits

Every time we have an 8-year president there is always some small group that wants to abolish presidential term limits.

They wanted it with Clinton, Bush and now Obama.

Former leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein remarked he couldn’t understand why we changed so often. He claimed it takes eight years just to get the hang of things. Then you can really start to govern after that.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe FDR was just getting the hang of things in his third term.

Some Final Thoughts

It would be fairly easy to vote in term limits for congress if it were not for their pension plans.

Retiring with 80 percent or so of your pay and medical for life would not work with a high turnover of newcomers. A fresh less costly exit package would have to be negotiated as part of the deal.

The other side of the coin is if you did get a good person they would be gone quickly but on the other side of the coin that would work well getting rid of the bad ones.

And, other than prestige, why would someone run with no pension to fall back on when his or her term limit ended?

Term limits, while attractive on the surface, could have some very deep potholes if not managed correctly.

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