Letter: Put term limits on Congress

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  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    March 21, 2019 6:28 a.m.

    Career politicians accumulate power and influence. Power brings home "the bacon" to their constituents. Constituents love "the bacon".

    We have seen the enemy and he/she is us. Enough of the hypocrisies from both sides of the political divides. Each side of the political debate points to another "tenured" Senator or Congressional representative, belting out criticism of that person as examples of the evils of career politicians. But not mine, goes the retort. Not mine! He/she represents my interests.

    If you want citizen legislators, then hire them at election time. If you want power brokers who manipulate the system for their own benefit (and that of their campaign contributors) and a few "backbites" to the folks back home, then keep sending the same old tired, compromised faces to Washington and your state capitol.

    I don't have any confidence that the voting public can exercise that kind of judgment.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    March 20, 2019 2:54 p.m.

    Confused almost hit the bullseye on what is really the problem with DC. It's not really so much the PACs, special interests, and lifetime politicians as it is the civil servants (bureaucracy) that run all the departments.

    Administrations come and go. You go from Clinton to Bush to Obama to Trump and, guess what, that same civil servant has been at his desk the whole time. They never have to change policies or procedures. All they have to do is outlast the current crop of dime-a-dozen politicians until the next crew is elected and comes on shift.

    Their main objective is budget (funding). They spend all the money allocated to them so they can ask for more next year. Whether they actually have any value is completely beside the point. They just want to protect their jobs for 40 years until they retire.

    In Defense, we often refer to the "Iron Major." Generals and admirals may think they are making decisions and running things but it is really the mid-level officers running programs and determining how and why resources are allocated to programs. It's the same with these civil servants. The White House and Congress are illusions of power. The real power is in the bureaucracies.

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    March 20, 2019 1:17 p.m.

    RJohnson - We already have term limits; it’s up to the voters to enforce them at the ballot box.

    Here is my theory why this happens....
    Voters have come to the very sad conclusion that Elected Officials do not run Washington, but rather the political machine (made up of PAC's, long term politicians and special interest groups) does.

    I remember Karen Shepard promising to break up the machine when she was elected to congress, once there, she found out just how difficult that would be and basically caved in to the "Process".

    This is one reason that Term Limits might help, it would eliminate a lot of the political clout the "Machine" has.

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    March 20, 2019 1:13 p.m.

    Freiheit --
    I like your observations and concerns. I know those are tricky issues to get around.

    But one thing I think Term Limits would help is that when a Career politician like Hatch or Pelosi, the longer they are in, the more political clout they get.

    In fact, there was an article not so long ago how Pelosi used her political clout and special interest groups to get the Speaker of the House nomination.

    I think to break the "Political Machine" which may or may not include elected officials, Term limits is the only way to break the clout the machine has.

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    March 20, 2019 11:14 a.m.

    We'd also have a much more disorganized legislature if term limits are set too low since you need experience to be able to run committees effectively. If there are to be term limits set it should be at something relatively high to allow for smoother committee leadership (like 6 terms in the House and 3 in the Senate). That would make the longest career possible legislative career 30 years (and only a tiny portion of legislators would get to that except in small states where the number of House and Senate seats are about the same).

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    March 20, 2019 10:46 a.m.

    If everybody who says they are in favor of term limits ALWAYS voted against the incumbent when his allocation ended, we would have term limits. But even the hardiest advocates are not being truthful in their hearts or their actions. They claim to be for term limits but they keep voting for the incumbent.

    After seeing this year's crop of House freshmen, I would be terrified of term limits. That is one scary group.

  • Flipphone , 00
    March 20, 2019 9:16 a.m.

    There is only one problem establishing term limits for congress and the problem is congress has to approve term limits and their is no way they will vote to stop their grave train.

  • One more time Spanish Fork, UT
    March 20, 2019 8:09 a.m.

    Term limits sounds good, but you will end up with unintended consequences. Best to hold our legislators in check through the ballot box.

    Way back in the '70s Orrin Hatch ran and won on term limits. He flipped and we refused to do our duty and vote for someone else. The best things we could do is throw the bums out. But We the People refuse to do our duty. We are the keepers of Congress and keep re-electing these do nothing candidates based on party politics. The fault is ours, not term limits.

  • ConservativeCommonTater Salt Lake City, UT
    March 20, 2019 8:06 a.m.

    Term limits would be a great idea for several reasons. People making less than $200K a year somehow become millionaires after a couple of terms. They concentrate too much power and use it to intimidate others in government and civilian jobs. They spend too much time on their "Beg-a-Thons" or selling themselves to the highest bigger

    Preventing future Orrin Hatch's, Mitch McConnell's, Diane Feinstein's, Strom Thurmonds, Maxine Waters', and the list goes on, would be a good thing.

    Some would say that longevity gives them more power to get things done. Enter the millionaire status goals.

    We don't need or want career politicians enriching themselves at taxpayer expense.

  • Thomas Jefferson Salt Lake City, UT
    March 20, 2019 8:05 a.m.

    I agree with you but we will always have the excuse makers whenever this comes up. Sure, the excuses are poor (like 'we already have term limits, voting) but that doesnt mean the person doesnt really believe in those excuses.

    Good enough for the presidency, good enough for congress.

  • Freiheit Salt Lake City, UT
    March 20, 2019 7:02 a.m.

    While term limits sounds good at first glance, there are a couple of issues that should be considered:
    1) Is there any evidence that first-term representatives or senators vote any more responsibly than those with longer tenure?
    2) If the elected office holders are for the most part newbies, this would mean that veteran unelected staffers would be the only ones who "know the ropes" and would play an even greater role than they do now.
    3) Do we apply this no-experience-is better principle in other areas of life? Do we seek out the least experirenced doctors, lawyers, plumbers or mechanics when we have a problem?

    While career politicians present a real problem, the answer is not an arbitrary term limit, but rather the development of an intelligent and knowlegeable electorate that makes real choices at the ballot box. And maybe a couple of unicorns to help us.

  • RJohnson Salt Lake City, UT
    March 20, 2019 4:25 a.m.

    We already have term limits; it’s up to the voters to enforce them at the ballot box. Mandating limits, however, deprives all of us the right to vote for those whom we think best for the job, those we want representing us.

    No one really wants them anyway. In polling, 80+% say they favor term limits yet continue to return the incumbents. That tells me that either most polled are lying or they support term limits for the other guy but not their guy. My money’s on the latter.

  • No One Of Consequence Salt Lake City, UT
    March 20, 2019 12:07 a.m.

    Great idea. How are you going to convince Congress to send that amendment out to the States for ratification? They don't want term limits.

    The only way to make that change is through an Article 5 Conference of the States.

  • Happy Valley Hillbilly Alpine, UT
    March 19, 2019 10:53 p.m.

    Agreed. 12 years for a member of the House or Senate. Maximum. No more career politicians. Also, consider a partial year for Congress as is done here in UT. It would speed up the legislative process considerably.

  • high school fan Huntington, UT
    March 19, 2019 10:19 p.m.

    Term limits is a great idea, twelve years is enough of anyone. Retirement pay should also be eliminated but we could pay them six to twelve months after they leave office to allow them time to reaclimate.