Do I detect a hint of sour grapes in Gina Loudon's denunciation of term limits? ["The case against term limits"] Ms. Loudon's husband, the distinguished conservative Republican state senator John Loudon, was term-limited out of the Missouri Legislature in 2008. That fact seems to have served as the catalyst for her column.
I add that the influential radio host Mark Levin once opposed term limits, but has changed his mind. One of Mr. Levin's 11 proposed amendments to the Constitution provides for term limits.
In her piece, Ms. Loudon mentions that 15 states have term limits. However, of those 15 state legislatures, only California has a Democrat-controlled legislature. Twelve have Republican-controlled legislatures. The other two, Maine and Colorado, have split legislatures – one house is majority Republican, the other house majority Democrat. It seems term limits are good for Republicans.
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Ms. Loudon twice invokes the Founding Fathers to buttress her case against term limits. It's true the original Constitution had no term-limit provision for elected officials, but did Loudon forget the upshot of the 16th and 17th Amendments? Ratified in 1913, the 17th Amendment vandalized the founders' system of checks and balance by stripping state legislatures of their function to elect U.S. senators. States morphed into vassals of Washington, D.C. (If that 17th Amendment had never been ratified, Republicans would have controlled the U.S. Senate for all of the Obama years.) Meanwhile, the 16th Amendment, also ratified in 1913, ensured an inexhaustible and increasing supply of money available to incumbent politicians to court influence and buy votes. In the 1800s, turnover in Congress averaged 40-50 percent in federal elections. In modern times, turnover ranges between 5 and 10 percent. The system is broken. The founders never intended Congress as a House of Lords 2.0.
The founders set six years as the term for a senator. In the 113th Congress, the seniority of 12 senators ranged from 21 to 38 years; the average term was above 30 years. The next 12 senators in seniority averaged 21 years in office. These 24 include Machiavelli's finest: Reid, McCain, Levin, Feinstein, Durbin, Collins, Johnson, Cochran, Mikulski, McConnell, Schumer, Boxer and Murray. Can anyone doubt that Americans would be more prosperous, harmonious and free had these noxious barnacles been term-limited after 12 years?
In the House, term limits are desperately needed to clean out the rotted wood. A term in the House is only two years, which telegraphs the founders' expectation of turnover. However, in the 113th Congress, 69 House members had served 20 years or more; the average being 25 years for that group. Too many bad apples end up overstaying. For example, Dingell has been there since 1956; Conyers since 1966; Rangel since 1972. Sensenbrenner (elected 1979) authored the hated Patriot Act, the law that took a jackhammer to the Bill of Rights, turned all Americans into suspects and essentially codified a Fourth Reich. Instead of serving time in prison for his treachery, Sensenbrenner will serve his 35th year in the House. Baron of pork Hal Rogers has clung to his House seat since 1982. Rogers was a prime mover of the $1.1 trillion budget that Boehner (elected 1991) muscled through in December 2014 against the will of the voters. Rogers and Boehner handed Obama a $1.1 trillion gift horse and knee-capped the incoming Republican-controlled Congress. Also among House inmates with 20 or more years, you can find the likes of Pelosi, Waxman, Hoyer, Gutierrez, Clyburn, Waters, S. Levin, Nadler, McDermott, Lowey, Moran and Pallone. Were 12-year term limits in place, all of this rotten wood would have been flushed away many years ago.