According to a recent Gallup poll, the Congressional approval rating has fallen to a whopping 21 percent. Quite frankly, I’m shocked that it’s that high. Thanks to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and the Supreme Court case of U.S. Term Limits, Inc. vs. Thornton, it is currently illegal for a state to deny ballot access to legislators who have already served. The case overturned a ballot measure that added the amendment to the Arkansas state constitution. This case was the final blow to the movement for term limits.
Before we can plan for change, we need to know why a change is needed. Congress has such a low approval rating because they are incredibly out of touch with the American people and are, without a doubt, the biggest shopaholics in the history of our planet.
Let’s start with the Senate President pro tempore Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the man who is third in line for the presidency after Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Byrd was born in 1917 and assumed office in 1959. This means that Byrd became a Senator before the first manned spaceflight and colored television. Byrd was the Exalted Cyclops, or leading member, of his chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. (He has since renounced the organization). Byrd’s other accomplishments include being dubbed “King of Pork” by Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-profit, non-partisan, fiscal watchdog group, and leading some of the longest filibusters of all time.
Byrd is not the only bad egg. In the current Congress, 20 different legislators are currently under criminal investigation. That’s a lot of felonies. However, these investigations pale in comparison to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) reported plan to pass the much debated single-payer healthcare bill by attaching it as a rider to an unrelated bill. This would effectively allow him to get around not only the American people, but also around the lower house of Congress.
According to National Public Radio, the current public debt is approximately $12 billion. Currently, interest paid on the national debt is the third largest expense in the federal budget. The budget currently proposed by President Barack Obama will create more debt than all previous budgets combined, which includes adjusting for inflation. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the current Congress has proposed $1.4 trillion of new spending, which does not include healthcare spending. Can we please pay legislators not to legislate?
Now that we’ve identified the problem — and it is a problem — we can go about finding a solution. The obvious answer is to simply elect more representatives like Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the so-called “Doctor No Spending” of the Senate who famously pointed out the “Bridge to Nowhere” and proposed the money be spent repairing a similar bridge destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
According to a recent Gallup poll, a whopping 93 percent of Americans support Congressional term limits, but too many members of the House and Senate would vote against such a bill. However, the founding fathers anticipated just such an event; two thirds of the legislatures of the several states may call a constitutional convention. This means that if 34 states passed such a measure, the entire constitution could be amended without going through Congress. Moreover, once it became obvious to Congress that a convention would be called, individual legislators would begin to back it since it is one of the few issues most Americans, and more importantly, most students, agree on. If you are interested in learning more about the issue of Congressional term limits, please write to your Congressman Rob Wittman (R-Va.) at Wittman.house.gov.
E-mail Andrew Follet at [email protected]