“In the course of his first term, (President) Obama increased the federal debt by just shy of $6 trillion and in return grew the economy by $905 billion. So, as Lance Roberts at Street Talk Live pointed out, ‘…in order to generate every dollar of economic growth the United States had to borrow about five dollars and 60 cents.’ There’s no one out there on the planet — whether it’s ‘the rich’ or the Chinese — who can afford to carry on bankrolling that rate of return.” Canadian economist Mark Steyn wrote this analysis just three days after the re-election of President Obama – Steyn has hit the nail on the head – the president is driving our country to ruin.
Consider Stein’s assessment that “(i)t took the government of the United States two centuries to rack up its first trillion dollars in debt. Now Washington piles on another trillion every nine months.” Steyn is virtually mute however in how to stop this train wreck – he leaves that conundrum to others.
A consensus is now forming to seek term limits for the Congress. This movement would make the national legislature the second branch of the federal government to suffer the indignity of having its members declared too dangerous to continuing serving in office. Or more accurately, it would be the second time the peoples’ will would be thwarted in modern times, that is, the people cannot be trusted to rule themselves. Term limits are therefore a big deal and should be considered carefully. So far that has not been the case. Most proponents of term limits grasp the closest hatchet and swing away setting the maximum time in office at one of two terms (2 or 4 years in the house and 6 years in the senate). Although these new term limits might seem liberating at first that euphoria would itself be limited. Incumbents do have some good features: 1. They know how to get things done when they want to and more importantly, 2. They possess institutional memory so that old lessons do not need to be learned again. A national legislature of all freshmen would be a disaster of epic proportions.
Now the subject of term limits is not new – just look at the 1951 22nd amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting the tenure of the president to two terms and in rare cases 10 years in office. That knee jerk reaction by Republicans came after FDR – it was in theory an attempt to rid the country of a future demagogue. Roosevelt for all of his positive leadership skills was in office the same number of years (12) as Adolph Hitler, in addition FDR tried to pack the U.S. Court in the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937, which provided a scheme for the president to immediately add six new justices recalibrating the court’s political center. The court packing element was rightly panned and was eliminated by the congress at the time since it represented the most brazen attempt to neuter a co-equal branch. The bottom line is that the people needed to be chastened lest they fall under the sway of a real demagogue like Huey Long who was running for president in 1936.
This is why the Founding Fathers drew up Article I, section 3, of the Constitution creating the election of U.S. Senators through the state legislatures, providing a firewall against the tyranny of the majority. It’s interesting to note the righteous tone of the 1913 Seventeenth Amendment directing that all senators be elected by people – it “restates the first paragraph of Article I, section 3 of the Constitution and provides for the election of senators by replacing the phrase ‘chosen by the Legislature thereof’ with ‘elected by the people thereof.’ However the tyranny of the majority has never left the consciousness of the American people. Now that fear is back front and center.
In order to maximize stability while returning fiscal sanity to the Congress, the people must be checked anew otherwise the train to fiscal Armageddon will continue uninterrupted. The best way to check the people is to limit the terms of U.S. Representatives and Senators to 12 years – after 12 years, all incumbents are banned from further service for six years before they can once again face the voters. This six year moratorium would allow a more equal contest between incumbents, one current and the other former. In addition, the voters can view the contest with a more deliberative mind.
Any time the people’s will is chastened it is a serious act that must be justified. ”To prove (this need) let Facts be submitted to a candid world.” – TJ, July 4, 1776
More than 90% of congressmen from both chambers are re-elected – they have the special interest money plus the benefits of gerrymandering (realigning districts to assure re-election). With a 2 to 1 advantage in fundraising, incumbents can all but silence their challengers. Term limits by scalpel will ameliorate the current imbalance. The other reason for the 12 year limit is to stop our country from collapsing financially. Now that is indeed a noble reason to thwart the people’s will temporarily, “…that (this) government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. AL – November 19, 1863
The time to act is now…”Nurse, scalpel please.” (Word Total: 888)
Geoffrey G. Fisher is a federally designated Highly Qualified state-certified history teacher living in southwest Florida. He holds a BA in History from the University of Connecticut and a MA in Public Policy from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. In addition to teaching he is a former elected official and speechwriter. Mr. Fisher now writes the political blog: THE THINKING CAP at www.theamericanthinkingcap.blogspot.com
He is also a weekly columnist for the Political e-Magazine: THE PATRIOTUPDATE.COM