The American people are determined to change the way things are done in Washington. And when one idea fails to work, they try something else.
Over the past several election cycles, the American voters have punished the Republicans for failure to control government abuses by transferring power to the Democrats. But when the Democrats used their new power to make government even more intrusive into their lives and pocket books, they reversed course and sought a new political movement which promises to do what the voters want. This gave rise to the so-called Tea Parties with their promise for smaller government and lower taxes.
The results of this year’s elections indicate just how strong the desire for government reform is. Voters are making their demands very clear. But they are not waiting around to see if the politicians in Washington will follow through with their promises. Various groups are pressing for new constitutional amendments that would pressure Congress to follow their instructions.
Four Republican senators are supporting a term-limit plan designed to block politicians from making elective office a lifetime career. The plan would limit members of Congress to three two-year terms or a total of six years. Members of the Senate would be limited to two six-year terms for no more than 12 years. Thus, any politician would have to win three terms in the House and two terms in the Senate to achieve his or her maximum time of 18 years in office.
Another proposed amendment would take away the special perks awarded to members of Congress. The changes would require them to take part in the same programs they impose on the public. They would lose their special health benefits and be required to purchase the same insurance as the public. They would be required to pay into their own retirement fund, and join the Social Security program and pay the same taxes they require of the rest of us.
Also among the proposed amendments is the frequently suggested balanced budget amendment. If this amendment were to pass, Congress would be required to limit federal spending to the level of revenues from the previous year. Only in the case of a declared war could the government spend money in excess of revenues.
And finally, several groups are pushing to repeal the 17th amendment. This amendment passed 100 years ago changed the way Senators are chosen. In the original plan, the House of Representatives was to represent the people, and the Senate was designed to represent the states. Originally, the two senators from each state were named by the legislature of the states and were answerable to the state governments. This was intended to keep the power of the states equal to that of the federal government.
Passing a Constitutional amendment is a difficult and involved process. For any of these proposals to succeed will require great effort, especially since they tend to limit the power of current office holders. But the effort will at least make it clear to the politicians that we the people are demanding that they listen to us for a change.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is email@example.com. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.
This sounds Great!!! I never have understood how they are able to vote themselves raises and have their own special retirement and medical plans.. The thing that really gets me is all the lawmakers that owe back taxes WHY DOESN"T THE IRS COLLECT FROM THEM LIKE THEY WOULD YOU OR ME???? Corrupt politicians should be dealt with!
Great column by Frank as usual. My favorite politician Dr. Ron Paul (R-Texas) does not participate in the Congressional retirement system. He signed away his retirement years ago and will receive nothing from the taxpayers when he leaves the House. Ron of course votes no on Congressional raises. He is truly America's low-overhead congressman. His toll-free message number is 1-888-322-1414, updated each week. He astutely votes no on all foreign aid.
I'm hoping for a recount from the '08 primaries - we were only a few zillion votes behind.