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Should there be term limits for members of Congress?

Daniel Inouye's uninterrupted stretch of service in the Senate chamber is the second longest in history.

In November, Inouye will stand for a ninth Senate term. He is expected to win in a cakewalk -- his likely Republican opponent is calling himself "crazy" in campaign ads for taking on Inouye. Read the full story.

By Abha Bhattarai  |  October 4, 2010; 12:14 PM ET  | Category:  National Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Republicans love term limits and big business. When I see Fortune 500 corporations adopt a policy of routinely firing top executives after a set number of years regardless of their individual performance, I'll consider it.

Posted by: SInop65 | October 4, 2010 4:43 PM

The issue is not with term limits -- the issue is with the entrenched committee chair positions. I would much, much rather see a limit to the time a senator or representative can serve as a committee chairman -- perhaps 3-5 years. This would prevent the mini-fiefdoms that arise where some all-powerful committee chair can literally make or break legislative efforts.

Posted by: mwashington2 | October 4, 2010 5:03 PM

I agree with mwashington2 -- let us also have
a rule that no one can can run for office
if 72 or older.

Posted by: buggs1 | October 4, 2010 5:12 PM

I'll favor term limits for legislators when there are term limits for lobbyists as well.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | October 4, 2010 5:14 PM

Two terms for a Senator, four terms for a House member.

Posted by: rcubedkc | October 4, 2010 5:24 PM

I wouldn't say that it's so much a question of corruption as much as to avoid entrenched power. The idea would be to have people in power long enough that they learn to do their jobs well, but not so long that their power in the institution perverts the best interests of the public. I would also change the term length for Congressmen to four years from two so that they aren't constantly running for office; my suggestion would be 12 years for Senators and 16 for Congressmen since they would have to seek approval from the voters more often.
The problem that this would cause is that it would give more power to the staff people who would probably become a permanent bureaucracy and make the legislative process even more dependent on the lobbying for information and expertise. I'm not sure if it would decrease the power of lobbyists to insert language into bills that helps their industries and harms the rest of us, but at least it would limit the time any one member can be in a position to make this occur.

Posted by: ThomasFiore | October 4, 2010 5:32 PM

There should be term limits for members of the Senate, House, Judiciary and federal employees.

Starting point for discussion:
2 six year terms for Senate (elected by the State not the voters)
6 two-year terms for house elected by the people
Federal judges should serve no more than seven years on any court.
Federal employees should serve no more than ten years in government employment.
All should live under the same laws as any other citizens

All should have to go back and live under the laws (and rules)they pass with no federal pensions. Save money like the rest of the workers must do.

The above may change the attitude about the rules and laws they pass and enforce.

Posted by: georgiarat | October 4, 2010 5:34 PM

We should stop taking these polls and start doing something about it.... To add my two sense I think the President should be able to serve 2 non consecutive six year terms, Senators 4 six year terms with a maximum of two consecutively and members in the house 6 four year terms with a maximum of three consecutively.(Everyone would be required to take a term off before they can run again).. I think there should be a limit on the amount of years each Supreme Court Justice can serve as well, maybe 24 years with each President having the right to select at least two during his term...I haven't completely thought out everything for the Supreme Court yet though.

Posted by: vlis11 | October 4, 2010 6:03 PM

The combination of the anti-competitive 2 party system, the exorbitant cost of mounting a campaign (which the ruling parties encourage), and the unfair advantages which an incumbant exploits, and you have a system that all but makes a mockery of democracy. Term limits would have a marginal effect, but it would be a start. What is truly needed is a system which limits how long a legislative seat can be held by a member of either of the ruling parties.

Posted by: buffndm | October 4, 2010 6:05 PM

Term limits alone would be a great start at effectively reducing corruption in Washington. When a Congressman only has two terms to serve it also means we would no longer have to fund their retirement pensions or their health care. So it becomes a win/win for taxpayers who actually pay taxes.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | October 4, 2010 6:12 PM

What there should be is a box for none of the above and if that box gets checked more that the others than we have a do over without the losers.

Posted by: Woodstocknative | October 4, 2010 6:55 PM

IT SEEMS IT'S ONLY THE CORRUPT DEMOCRATS WHO HAVE BEEN THERE FOREVER.

Posted by: COOLCHILLY | October 4, 2010 7:05 PM

Congress is not a career. Public service in office should be for a couple of terms and then leave to allow more people to have the honor of serving in our Government.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 4, 2010 7:42 PM

Yes there should be term limits. How can anyone "clean up Washington" when you have power brokers there trying to keep "the game" as is!

Posted by: ravioliman6666 | October 4, 2010 8:22 PM

Term limits appear to be OK for the president, how can they be wrong for Congress?

Posted by: Davidd1 | October 4, 2010 8:48 PM

I agree with term limits but not for the reason given of corruption. I think you constantly need new ideas, and that once you've been institutionalized in DC, you lose the ability to come up with new ideas because new ideas are unproven, which means risky, which means job security decreases, and that's all that 90% of them care about. But I'm not saying make it terribly short either. I'd go 3 terms senate, 7 terms House. If you can't make a name for yourself in 18/14 years respectively- you're not going to.

Posted by: novahokie2004 | October 4, 2010 9:39 PM

Yes we should have term limits - let's start by ending John Kerry's run. Kerry has been in office since 1984 and only becomes a factor when he or the dems need political clout. I am not a fan.
That is not to say I back the Republican's either. I have worked in DC since September 11th and know first hand one party is worse than the other.
There are problems with term limts which could be more damaging than life time entitlements. Faced with term limits the leaders of our republic would be more susceptible to legislation for hire. The promise of a high paying jobs after service would truely making lobbyist's the rulers of the universe. In DC we see it all the time as high level officials leave their government jobs to give influence to beltway bandits selling our contry to the highest bidder. The revoloving door policies of government would ensure that no one would ever be held accountable.
For the most part I like what I have seen from our new Senator Scott Brown. I live in Northern VA but still consider myself a Bostonian. I am concerned and wonder if Senator Brown will continue to work in the best interest of Massachusetts and the United States after reelected? I hope he will.
One more suggestion. We should also reduce the amount of time between senate elections. Six years is a long time to waste on a poor performer.

Posted by: RealityCheck32 | October 4, 2010 9:59 PM

We already have term limits. They are called elections.

Everyone hates Congress and the government in general, but they love their individual representatives.

Posted by: tazmodious | October 5, 2010 12:56 AM

It is WELL worth noting that John Boehner, who took credit for being one of the prime movers of the Contract on America, is in office YEARS after he promised he would step down.

While there are some Republicans who actually did have the integrity to honor their commitment, a not surprising number of people who signed on to the Contract on America are still in the House of Representatives. Indeed, some of them -- John Boehner in the forefront -- have even signed on to ANOTHER Contract on America, this one actually written by lobbyists, rather than simply inspired by them.

While fortunately the provisions of the Contract on America did not make it into law, even during the time that the Republicans had control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency (which says a good deal about the honesty and integrity of the GOP), declining to run for reelection is one part of the Contract on America that each Republican who signed it can implement for himself -- if they actually believed in it. That so many, including the House Minority Leader, have failed to take this step entirely within their own individual capability says a lot for them -- none of it good.

Posted by: edallan | October 5, 2010 1:53 AM

Federal employees should serve no more than ten years in government employment.
All should live under the same laws as any other citizens
All should have to go back and live under the laws (and rules)they pass with no federal pensions. Save money like the rest of the workers must do.
The above may change the attitude about the rules and laws they pass and enforce.

Posted by: georgiarat | October 4, 2010 5:34 PM
__________
Hmm, so you would dismantle CIA, FBI, NASA engineers or the FAA or even the miltary at their 10th year? That is idiotic. Civil employees work hard if not harder than others and often devote decades to the service of the country.

Posted by: cadam72 | October 5, 2010 2:56 AM

Yonkers, New York
05 October 2010

Yes.

It should be crystal-clear by now that imposing term limits on Senators and Members of the House of Representatives to, say, four years, should minimize to a very significant extent the corruption that has enveloped the Congress all these years.

Without those term limits, Members of the Congress are able to accummulate such power and prestige as to make them vulnerable to the natural inclination of mega-Corporations, mega-Institutions and Organizations and wealthy individuals ["Malefactors of Great Wealth"] to contribute to their political campaigns [their PACs] as far as the statutory limits allow, on a quid pro quo basis. These contributions are, in fact, to ue a banal term, "bribes."

Moreover, a four-year term limit for Senators and Representatives will make it possible for the Congress to renew, refresh and reinvigorate itself with fresh political talent on a periodic basis.

That way, America also cleanses and renews itself.

Mariano Patalinjug

Posted by: MPatalinjug | October 5, 2010 6:13 AM

I'm afraid term limits wouldn't help at all. The revolving door will just start working even faster. And the corrupt dual-party system and Citizens United decision will see to it that we can only choose between corporate-sponsored tools. We really need to address the underlying rot with an independent ethics committee, publicly funded campaigns, and the removal of these god-awful e-voting hack-magnets.

Posted by: cosimo_rondo | October 5, 2010 8:01 AM

BE CONSIDERED?

Do they have high schoolers writing for the wapo now?

How many times has the supreme court ruled against term limits in the last 20 years. If you don't know.... you shouldn't be voting.

CONSIDER THEM..... some insightful "leaders" have put them to the popular vote.... in recent history.

shame shame shame on all of you that do now KNOW the last case.... which state last brought term limits to a popular vote?

Posted by: docwhocuts | October 5, 2010 8:02 AM

It was pathetic to see them roll out Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy in wheelchairs whenever they needed a close vote in the senate.

Old John Dingell from Michigan has been in Congress since 1955. Married to a General Motors lobbyist, he kept mandatory automobile fuel efficiency standards from being passed for decades - helping to destroy the American auto industry.

Posted by: alance | October 5, 2010 8:17 AM

Prior to 1994, Republicans screamed about term limits because Republicans didn't think they could retake control of Congress. Then surprise, suprise: Republicans took control of Congress and interest in term limits faded.

Plus, it is ridiculous to think that term limits would do anything about corruption. What corrupts Congress is unlimited spending by private corporations, which have all the rights of citizens but NONE of the legal responsibilities.

Posted by: jjedif | October 5, 2010 8:25 AM

Sure there should be term limits for congress, but the real enemy of the current system is money. Until elections are publicly financed and office holders aren't required to take bribes to stay in power, nothing will change.

Posted by: twdindep | October 5, 2010 8:35 AM

We already have term limits. They are called "elections."

When the people get tired of the representatives they have, they elect new ones.

Posted by: bhenderson | October 5, 2010 8:44 AM

Members of the Congress and the Senate are the only people in the U.S. with unlimited terms of service. In actuality, the more they stay in the legislative bodies the more corrupt and power hungry they become. This is not healthy for a democracy.
There should be a term limit of 10 years for Congress and 12 for Senators or when someone reaches the age of seventy, they should be dropped from being a candidate again.
Unfortunately the real old people are wasting everybody’s time and resources just to keep them alive in Congress. A Senator from South Carolina was usually carried and propped up with several people at the beginning of Committee hearings. He somehow manages to open the session with a gavel and then hands it over to someone. I have seen sometime the gavel was held by someone else. Four people then carry him away. This despicable sight was disgusting. We should end this nonsense.
There were many others in this category who are wasting taxpayers money. For heavens sake, let us drop this total disregard for U.S. taxpayers

Posted by: smithjohnson748 | October 5, 2010 8:50 AM

Why beat your gums over something that is never going to happen.
Most of these people are professionals and know a good thing when they are in it. So why should they want to vote themselves out of a job. Power corrupts.
Age limits would be a good thing. No one over 70 should serve in either branch of congress.

Posted by: jrnberrycharternet | October 5, 2010 9:00 AM

The issue is not only the elected. It is entrenched lobbying, bureaucratic and campaign financing regime.

You can send Mr. or Ms. Smith (with the best and most idealistic intentions) to D.C. or your favorite capitol. Within weeks they will be consumed by the need to finance themselves to re-election and favor trading.

Our founders understood this and so worked hard to make governing limited. Decades of power grabbing increased the power of government and made it far too intrusive.

Governing elites, only a fraction of which are subject to ballots, then work their magic to tilt the balance to the wealthy and powerful both seen and unseen.

Unless and until the U.S.A. returns to limited government, we will travel the road to decline as all over-powerful govenments do. And we will do this as the powerful extract benefits all out of proportion to their contributions to the concept of 'the greatest good for the greatest number'.

The history of our democratic republic is proof that the wisdom and capacities of a nation are not in its leaders but in its people. Left, as much as possible, to their own devices and ambitions, citizens, voters and taxpayers produce benefits far beyond what appear to be private interests.

It is private interests manipulating the levers of political power that cause problems.

So whatever increases the necessity for the elected to serve the electors is a good thing. Term limits may help here. But not on their own.

Robert Fuller
Hopewell, NJ

Posted by: fuller1 | October 5, 2010 9:03 AM

Every elected official is limited to ONE term, unless the voters decide otherwise. Term limits are completely unnecessary and undemocratic. If a member needs to leave, the voters can remove him. If they don't, nobody has the right to say he/she has been in office too long.

Posted by: Dadrick | October 5, 2010 9:06 AM

Isn't it curious that when the subject of term limits comes up it is always long serving democrats that are mentioned, as in this case with Daniel Inouwe. I have never heard Orrin Hatch's name mentioned. Her has been in the Senate forever. I remember Bob Bennett running directly on the issue in 1992 but after winning election stayed in office till an insurgency within his own caucus prohibited him from running in the Primary in Utah this year. That's 20 years for a republican who ran directly on the issue of term limits. Bennett also ran on the issue of giving the President a line item veto then reneged on it and led a coalition to get it struck down in the Supreme Court the first time President Clinton exercised it.

I remember these events. Why have you not heard about them? Maybe you should ask the editors of this newspaper.

Posted by: jaxas70 | October 5, 2010 9:15 AM

As with most things there are pros and cons. The experience and knowledge are important - we can't just have all one term legislators. I've seen organizations where people are rotated every 3 years - the first year they have no clue what they're doing, the second year they are productive, and the third year they don't care as much. We need some continuity in the legislature - there are other ways of dealing with the too-much-power issue

Posted by: pegwc1 | October 5, 2010 9:19 AM

Of course, professional politicians like the existing ones will sue to exempt themselves. Just as they have opted out of medical plans.

Posted by: dcodco | October 5, 2010 9:29 AM

Term Limits will only empower the lobbyist and the staffs who are not accountable or electable. We already have term limits, they are called elections. What we need is an educated electorate!

Posted by: glennl | October 5, 2010 9:31 AM

There are already term limits. Two years for the House and six for the Senate.

If you are not happy with the job that your elected offfical is doing then vote him or her out but as long as that person is performing to the satisfaction of the majority of people that he or she needs to be elected then the will of the people of that juristdiction is being voiced.

Besides it takes time to learn the ropes of the political scene there in Washington.

So it would seem that by the time the elected offical learns how to be effective in his or her post it's time to give it up.

How is that best serving the needs of the people?

Posted by: Skalawag1 | October 5, 2010 9:39 AM

I think a mandatory retirement age would be better than term limits -- say 75 or 80 (by the END of the prospective term). I also think candidates should be required to pass a comprehensive physical exam. If someone has a chronic illness or poor health that interferes with the job, they should not be allowed to run. We need healthy people who are not only willing but physically and mentally able to do the work.

Posted by: ccs53 | October 5, 2010 9:44 AM

How many in other businesses (yes, Congress IS a business) can retire at full pay for life after one term in office or employment?

How many have their health care costs subsidized by 75% of someone else's money?

How many can vote themselves raises year after year?

Posted by: Utahreb | October 5, 2010 9:45 AM

We've had term limits in Ohio for quite some time now.

The results have been twofold:

Talented legislators are forced out of office to make way for inexperienced hacks.

Inexperienced hacks spend their time in office lobbying for cushy civil service jobs once they are term limited out.

The result is more corruption than we had previously.

Posted by: GaryG1 | October 5, 2010 9:52 AM

There is a balance to be sought out. The too-frequent turnover of congressmen/women can lead to a schizophrenic governing body that is essentially powerless. It takes time for members of congress to learn the ways and avenues of D.C. political life.

While there are both good and bad elements to people who "know the ropes" artificially pushing politicians out of office simply because an arbitrary term limit expires in a congress simply gives more power to bureaucrats and lobbyists who do not have term limits.

Incidentally, this survey was produced in a biased fashion. It plays on a framing bias. The Post should act more responsibly.

Posted by: theartistpoet | October 5, 2010 9:58 AM

Term limits mean a lack of trust in the voting public. It also means a government run by inexperienced people who are then overly influenced by unelected advisors, such as lobbyists and committee staff.
We need an educated electorate and, contrary to our activist right wing (not really conservative) Supreme Court, a reduced influence of money in politics.

Posted by: t2123 | October 5, 2010 10:04 AM

Term limits are such a cop out. If you don't like your senator or representative, vote him or her out. Also, term limits on chairmanships will hurt small states with tiny house delegations because otherwise states like California, Florida, and Texas will always get the lion's share of appropriations.

Posted by: da55 | October 5, 2010 10:18 AM

We have term limits people, it's called "Election Day". When pollsters drag out this question (every even year) they never follow it up with the necessary second question, "If you believe in term limits, do you vote in every federal election?"
People stay for a long time because the rest of us are lazy and don't engage in the system. It demands participation and when better candidates don't run and people don't vote for the other guy, that's when a Member or Senator stays.
If you want to limit someone's term you have to get off your butt and vote.

Posted by: cherryames7271 | October 5, 2010 10:19 AM

Best thing to do is to make them all state employees and get them off the fedgov dole. Next, limit the amount of time they can spend in DC to 6 months - period, during the summer with no air conditioning. Not only does it get the stench out of town, but it gives them less time to dream up ways to screw over the country.

Posted by: zendrell | October 5, 2010 10:31 AM

Yes, any incumbent lawmaker can be voted out, but let's be realistic here-- how often does that happen? The truth of the matter is unless an incumbent lawmaker is caught with his hands in the cookie jar (eg: Congressman Jefferson (D-LA) and Congressman Duke Cunningham (R-CA)), because of gerrymandering and advantages of incumbency, it's almost IMPOSSIBLE to defeat them. Despite ethical problems, you can bet Charlie Rangel's constituents will still send him back to Congress next month. So, yeah, theoretically any incumbent can be voted out, but in reality, barring a major scandal, it's almost impossible to do so.

I don't think instituting term limit is a good solution either. If we really want to rid our political system of corruption, we need to eliminate MONEY out of the system. When you need millions of dollar to run for reelection, is it any wonder our lawmakers spend an inordinate amount of their time chasing the lobbyists and their money? What we need is an effective campaign finance reform laws. Better yet, federal financing of elections.

Posted by: Nightstalker1 | October 5, 2010 10:40 AM

Term Limits?

Abso-freaking-lutely!

I'd rather deal with the problems of limited government than the problems of entrenched corruption.

That would be change we could believe in.

Posted by: postfan1 | October 5, 2010 10:41 AM

We already have term limits, its called voting. You just need an engaged electorate.
Your seeing on this year.

Posted by: TBsportsguy | October 5, 2010 10:49 AM

We already have term limits, its called voting. You just need an engaged electorate.
Your seeing one this year.

Posted by: TBsportsguy | October 5, 2010 10:50 AM

georgiarat wrote@ October 4, 2010 5:34 PM

“Federal employees should serve no more than ten years in government employment.
All should live under the same laws as any other citizens”

Do you really think it’s necessary to have FAA, USPS, FDA … etc find new jobs after ten years?

Posted by: knjincvc | October 5, 2010 10:59 AM

Everyone stop the madness by saying voting does count. Why it is just as corrupt an the men in black suites in Washington. Obama Acorn An George W made sure of this. They can change the vote to their favor. Big Business buys there seats in Gongress. We can never stop these shisters. We made them rich an this is how they thank us by kicking us out of the vote! American wise up damn it!

Posted by: JWTX | October 5, 2010 11:21 AM

K Street has more than enough influence as it is.

All term-limits accomplish is to guarantee most representatives remain new representatives, inexperienced pushovers for corporate lobbyists; that is, until they shortly become experienced enough to be looking forward to becoming corporate lobbyists.

Why don't we just cut Congressional pay at the same time to absolutely seal the deal.

Posted by: washpost29 | October 5, 2010 11:22 AM

Everyone stop the madness by saying voting does count. Why it is just as corrupt an the men in black suites in Washington. Obama Acorn An George W made sure of this. They can change the vote to their favor. Big Business buys there seats in Gongress. We can never stop these shisters. We made them rich an this is how they thank us by kicking us out of the vote! American wise up damn it!

Posted by: JWTX | October 5, 2010 11:55 AM

"How can anyone "clean up Washington" when you have power brokers there trying to keep "the game" as is!"

Easy - just vote someone else in. It's that simple.

If a majority of voters don't want to do that, that's their right in a democracy.

Posted by: Dadrick | October 5, 2010 1:41 PM

No. Term limits make politicians less responsible, not more responsible.

Term limits are a bad idea. We have them in our state legislature, and all those in-and-out Senators and Representatives are owned by big corporations and wealthy people. There is no memory of what has been done before, and no way to hold anybody accountable for irresponsible legislation because these people can't run again after two terms anyway.

Term limits are a very bad idea.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | October 5, 2010 1:59 PM

Simple solutions always come to haunt the public. Example, California has term limits. Since the term limits were voted in, lobbysts and corporations are the biggest winners. No politician cares because they know that they only have limited time to stuff their pockets. California has passed more legislation pushed by lobbysits than the public. Look at the mess in the State Budget. Similarly, Meg Whitman is not spending $120 million of her own money to help the public. It is to make her name for next office if she becomes Governor. Remember, term limits mean more lobbysts trying to make the politician rich in a short time. The politicians will not retire. They will find another "Game" in the town to play. Without term limits, they have continuous power and the lobbysts and politicians know that they have to do something for the public because they need their votes.

Posted by: nirjay | October 5, 2010 2:04 PM

And, this polls pretty much sums up everything that is wrong th this country. In every poll of this sort conducted, the overwhelming majority of voters are for it. They want trade tariffs and an end to free trade, they want job outsourcing stopped and cheap Chinese imports so heavily taxed they are strangled off our store shelves, they want multinational corporations heavily regulated or, better, made illegal, they want smaller government, they want banks and credit card companies criminally punished for harming innocent consumers, they want Homeland Security and all of those domestic spying agencies dismantled, they want public employee salaies and benefits to be made in line with what private sector workers make, and they want term limits. None of these will happen. The courts will throw out anything enacted into law, the politician's will ignore what the voters want, and newspapers like the Post will censor most news on these becasue it conflicts with it's leftist-corporate views. We are sunk as a nation, doomed to fail and crumble away as another of histories failures.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | October 5, 2010 2:10 PM

I hope someone is reading this. The American public wants terms limits.

Posted by: Carolyn22 | October 5, 2010 2:28 PM

Instead of term limits, how about not letting sitting members run for their office. If they want to run again, sit out a term. Every election would be competitive with no "incumbent" advantage.

Posted by: audritsh | October 5, 2010 2:42 PM

Mibrooks27, your post made me laugh. First you give a whole laundry list of things you want done (by whom, if not "government"?), and then you add that people want "smaller government." Can it be possible that you really don't see the disconnect?

But what really made me chuckle was that you want "public employee salaies [sic] and benefits to be made in line with what private sector workers make..."

Puh-leese! private sector employees have always been paid far more than government employees!

As for term limits - if they're doing a great job for you, why would you want them to go? If not - VOTE THEM OUT! It's really just that simple.

If that isn't working for you, it must be that most other people don't agree that they're doing a bad job. Kinda like the mother watching her son march in a parade and saying "Oh, look, everyone is out of step except for my little Johnny!"

Posted by: Pamsm | October 5, 2010 2:56 PM

Though I support term limits, the President is limited why shouldn't the other elected offices be limited. However, there is a problem: Staffers. One only has to look at the long list of staffers that move from politician to politician and work with them on occasion to understand the power they can amass. Along with term limits for the politician there would need to be limits and controls on staffers. Otherwise you would see them coming to be the power behind the office

Posted by: staterighter | October 5, 2010 3:00 PM

Though I support term limits, the President is limited why shouldn't the other elected offices be limited. However, there is a problem: Staffers. One only has to look at the long list of staffers that move from politician to politician and work with them on occasion to understand the power they can amass. Along with term limits for the politician there would need to be limits and controls on staffers. Otherwise you would see them coming to be the power behind the office

Posted by: staterighter | October 5, 2010 3:04 PM


Term limits have emotional appeal but sheering Congress of its institutional memory via forced retirements will make for an even more dysfunctional institution. Just look at the California legislature since term limits went into effect.

Posted by: edbyronadams | October 5, 2010 3:19 PM

If you think elections = term limits, you probably don't live in Maryland's 4th Congresional District. As long as politicians can continue to choose their constituents through grossly gerrymandered voting districts rather the other way around, term limitation is nothing more than rearranging the name tags.

Posted by: Jackmathias | October 5, 2010 3:29 PM

Sorry, that's "Congressional".

Posted by: Jackmathias | October 5, 2010 3:37 PM

Term limits is a dodgy GOP tactic and campaign issue that they promptly forget once he elections are over. Remember the 1994 GOP platform and Contract on America?

I don't want amateurs in government and I think age is a plus rather than a minus. Young political types tend to be hotheads, ideologue know-it-alls and shallow, with no "institutional memory" that provides perspective and wisdom.
I prefer my brain surgeons to be well educated, well trained, very experienced and well regarded as a known professional.

Why would anybody want a novice, ambitious, know nothing full of pi-s and vinegar to go in an disturb what has been built up over time? We need to reform the process and abuses, but not get rid of the good players - let the voters do that at the polls.

Posted by: enough3 | October 5, 2010 4:23 PM

In most other fields, the longer you're in the field and the more experience you have, the more qualified and desirable a candidate for the job you are considered to be. I see no reason why public service is any different from healthcare or information technology.

I'll also add my voice to the others saying, "We already have term limits. They're called 'elections'." The way it works, as astonishing as it may seem, is that if you think the incumbent is doing a bad job, **you vote for another candidate**. It really is that simple, I promise.

Posted by: psknight | October 5, 2010 4:31 PM

We have term limits: elections. Imposing limits by law only reduces the people's freedom of choice from term to term while ensuring that we're governed by amateurs in perpetuity. A better option: federally funded campaign financing. And, abolish the law allowing unlimited campaign contributions from corporations, the one Justice Alito likes so much.

Posted by: firethief | October 5, 2010 6:33 PM

Use a combination of I.R.V. and P.R. See http://www.fairvote.org for details.

Posted by: nbahn | October 5, 2010 8:11 PM

republicons always scream term limits when they are out of power. As soon as they are in the majority fox, the corporation which now runs the gop and pays their candidates while they run for office, shuts down that line immediately.

Surely you are not so stupid as to think that a congressperson who is doing a great job should be kicked out based on some arbitrary date.

It was a bad idea to term limit presidents. republicons only did it because of their irrational hatred of FDR. Had there been no such restriction Bill Clinton would have remained president for at least four more years from 2001-2005. Imagine the litany of disasters that scenario would have avoided.

Lawmakers spend the first few years just figuring out how the institution works. Thnking they should be kicked out for no logical reason is just silly and a political ploy for the gullible. We have elections to kick them out if they are doing poorly - or in the case of this election - if billionaires decide they want to own congress. We should limit campaign contribution, or better still have a 6 week election period with 100% public financing. THAT would get rid of corruption. Term limits are useless and if you think for 1 second that any congressman is ever ever ever in a billion years ever going to vote to send themselves to the unemployment line you are probably dumb enough to be a teahadi.

Posted by: John1263 | October 5, 2010 9:25 PM

They're already subject to term limits. They're called elections.

Posted by: washpost18 | October 5, 2010 10:43 PM

ALL ELECTED POSITIONS SHOULD HAVE TERM LIMITS. All teachers should have term limits. All union contracts should have terms. All bankers should have term limits. All CEO's should have term limits. All Board of Directors should have term limits.

Posted by: jaclk | October 16, 2010 10:55 AM

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