Yesterday, four Republican members of the United States Senate introduced a resolution that would create a constitutional amendment requiring term limits for members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives – two terms in the Senate and three terms in the House of Representatives. The legislation’s sponsors were Jim DeMint, Sam Brownback, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Tom Coburn.
The curious thing about two of these senators is that they announced a long while ago that they don’t intend to run for re-election anyway. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Sam Brownback have declared their intention to retire from the Senate, so the constitutional amendment wouldn’t even apply to them – just to their successors.
Justifying the amendment, Senator DeMint said, “As long as members have the chance to spend their lives in Washington, their interests will always skew toward spending taxpayer dollars to buyoff special interests, covering over corruption in the bureaucracy, fundraising, relationship building among lobbyists, and trading favors for pork — in short, amassing their own power.” Then again, even if there are term limits, the interests of U.S. Representatives will skew toward spending taxpayer dollars to please special interests, covering over corruption in the bureaucracy, fundraising, relationship building among lobbyists, and trading favors for pork — in short, ammassing their own power.
In fact, term limits could exacerbate such problems, by accelerating the revolving door between corporate lobbying and Congress. Without any lasting power base in the electorate, corporations could merely sponsor candidates to do their bidding. Without any retention of experience and power in the Congress, there would be even less legislative ability to oppose the will of corporate CEOs than there is now.