10.01.2008 0

Terms of Endearment

  • On: 10/21/2008 19:50:36
  • In: Term Limits
  • ALG Editor’s Note: As ALG News recently reported, Senator Barack Obama recently opposed term limits for Congressional candidates. As the following featured column from Stephen Moore at the Wall Street Journal illustrates, we were not alone:

    Terms of Endearment

    August 10th, 2008

    Chalk up another boilerplate liberal position for Barack Obama on a major congressional reform issue: term limits. Asked about whether he supports term limits, the Illinois Senator was unequivocal: “I’m generally not in favor of term limits. Nobody is term-limiting the lobbyists or the slick operators walking around the halls of Congress. I believe in one form of term limits. They’re called elections.”

    Let’s translate that answer: You can almost hear the K Street “lobbyists” and “slick operators,” who despise term limits, breathing a sigh of relief.

    U.S. Term Limits president Philip Blumel mocks Mr. Obama’s attitude as “utter nonsense.” He notes that lobbyists derive their power and influence from careerist politicians, giving rise to the so-called “iron triangle” of power in Washington: career politicians, federal agency bureaucrats and lobbyists. The idea of term limits is to break up that symbiotic and corruptive pact.

    The argument that elections are a form of term limits is the standard reply from the business-as-usual crowd in Washington. “As an incumbent,” says Mr. Blumel, “Mr. Obama knows full well that members of Congress have now skewed the laws to give themselves a virtual guarantee of a lifetime job. And as the self-appointed apostle of change, he ought to be taking the lead to change all that inequity.”

    The statistics back up Mr. Blumel’s point. Even in 2006 midterm elections, when Republicans lost control of Congress and voters were angry with incumbents, 94% of incumbents won re-election. Normally, re-election rates in the House are closer to 96% and here’s one reason: Incumbents on average raise $2 million per election — or three times more than challengers.

    So, the corrupting power structure in Washington and lifetime politicians can relax. When it comes to cleaning up the swamp of special interests inside the Washington beltway, Mr. Obama may be touting a slogan of “change you can believe in,” but he sounds more and more like a defender of the status quo.

    — Stephen Moore


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