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Why term limits are a bad idea.

October 5, 2010

Ohh, how pretty

There is much discourse in the conservative world of “term-limits are the key” and “all we need is term limits” to solve the ills that plague are government.  I used to be a member of that crowd.  To me, the problem with government was the career politicians that did everything they could to get re-elected.  After some deliberation, I have concluded that term-limits on our representatives will do absolutely nothing to fix the government.  Stick with me and I will explain the alternative.

First off, lets look at the reasoning behind term limits.

  • No more career politicians
  • No more pandering to the special interests
  • No more passage of politically expedient laws

Now what are the benefits of not having term-limits

  • Presumably the candidate that continuously gets re-elected is properly representing his constituents
  • Candidates do not automatically become lame-ducks, they are accountable their whole career

The animus behind term-limits is primarily on bad social legislation like obamacare.  As evidence proves, term-limits would have no impact on this type of huge government growth legislation being passed.  No representative that voted for obamacare was serving in Congress during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, yet he oversaw the largest expansion in government growth ever.  Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society”  was voted on by a couple of guys (Exalted Cyclops Byrd the most notable) still serving(in Byrd’s case, until a few months ago), but that was 40 years ago.

So although Obama is trying to relive the heady days of Democrat hegemony, his legislation isn’t getting passed because the Congress is stuffed with peeps who were around back then.

The real problem is that once this huge sweeping legislation gets passed it is almost impossible to get rid of.  There is no easy mechanism to dispose of laws that turn out to be a lemon for the American people.  What we need are term-limits on legislation.

Also called “sunset” dates, term-limits on laws are the only way we can hold future politicians accountable for the actions of their predecessors.  This is most easily evidenced by the Bush Tax-cuts, which are set to sunset on January 1st, 2011.  Much debate has been had about extending them or cutting them etc., which has brought this law to the forefront of political discourse.  For political reasons his tax-cuts were passed with a sunset date, but by no means are the majority of laws passed this way.

I feel the only way to put some restraint on our government is to demand a Constitutional Amendment requiring all laws to have a sunset date of 7 years (this would force Senators to be re-elected before they could re-approve legislation they voted on).  How would we feel about Obamacare if we knew it was going to end in 7 years unless Congress re-approved it?  I personally would still hate it, but at least I would have some hope of it being repealed, unlike now.

Would Social Security and Medicare be the monstrous entitlements they are now if they had to be re-approved every 7 years?  Absolutely not!

The best thing about this amendment: I can’t think of a reasonable argument against it.  Some people will say certain laws are too important, and the reply is, if they are so important then they will get re-approved.  Some people will say it would stifle progress, and our country would be stuck in the status-quo.  Progress for progress’ sake is not a good recipe, if the progress is worthwhile, it will continue to be re-approved.

See, our lawmakers feel they have to live up to the title.  We have too many laws already, yet they keep adding more and more.  If we had a mechanism to get rid of bad laws automatically, the law-making frenzy would at least have a check.

If you think I am way off base here, please tell me where I am wrong.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. JustFacts permalink
    October 5, 2010 10:16 pm

    I agree 100%. Of course the unions and the left would always argue that if you voted out a law that had created a great bureaucracy (i.e., the IRS) you would put 1,000s of people out-of-work. But, of course if that’s what the public wanted to do, isn’t that our “right.” Of course, the words coming from our friends on the left is that the public is to ill-informed or stupid to make these kinds of decisions. We need our elected “elite” class to make these decisions for us. And, their foot-children, the MSM is right there providing support for that conclusion.

    • October 5, 2010 10:31 pm

      Yeah, and that could be a way for congress to basically subvert the system. Pass a bill so big it makes a bureaucracy so large that to cancel the law in 7 years would be tantamount to squashing chipmunks with your evil conservative boot. “If we remove the Ministry of Information comrades, 500 million Americans will lose their jobs every month,” no, that’s not right, Pelosi already said that.

      And that’s kind of the key. No plan to fix Washington stands in a vacuum. It doesn’t replace the systems we already have in place to check power. These enormous bills still need to get passed in the first place.

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