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Term limits of 6 years in House and 12 years in Senate

The most common reelection rate for House members over the past 30 years is 98 percent. 98% reelection--that's what you expect to see in Russia, not in a democracy.

Americans don't want a permanent ruling class of career politicians. But that's what the power of incumbency and all the perks that incumbents give themselves are giving us. We want a citizen legislature and a citizen Congress--a government of, by, and for the people. To get that, we need term limits. We should limit members to three terms in the House and two terms in the Senate. Let more people serve. Let more people make the laws. And let's get some people who don't want to make Congress a lifelong career.

Some say that term limits would deprive us of the skills of experienced lawmakers. Really? It's the experienced legislators who gave us a $17 trillion national debt, and the endless war in Iraq, a massive government spying with no congressional oversight, and the Wall Street bailout.

Source: Cato Institute 2017 voting recommendation on Term Limits , Jan 26, 2017

Congress can decide which "emoluments" are acceptable

Potential conflicts arising from foreign patronage of Trump properties are going to come up day after day. Trump points out that the president is exempt from the conflict-of-interest laws that bind Congress, but that doesn't mean he will escape scrutiny from public opinion, including the Emoluments Clause. "Emolument" includes payments for services rendered, even if at arm's-length rates with no overpayment.

The wording of the Emoluments clause points one way to resolution: Congress can give consent, as it did in the early years of the Republic to presents received by Ben Franklin. It can decide what it is willing to live with in the way of Trump conflicts. If it misjudges public opinion, it will pay a political price at the next election.

If it doesn't act, could someone sue to enforce the Emoluments Clause? The Supreme Court could turn the dispute down on the grounds that it's a political question for which the indicated constitutional remedy should be impeachment.

Source: Cato Institute 2016 voting recommendation on Emoluments , Nov 29, 2016

Term limits oppose professionalization of legislators

Six considerations may explain political scientists' open hostility to term limitation:
  1. Political scientists were instrumental in promoting the professionalization of legislators.
  2. The revisionist approach to democratic theory continues to influence the way most of them view democracy.
  3. They are cynical about the attentiveness, general knowledge, and judgmental capacity of the average voter.
  4. They are committed to the conservation of leadership.
  5. They perceive attacks on professional politicians as a threat to their own self-proclaimed professionalism.
  6. And political partisanship may encourage them to oppose term limits.
Political scientists should lend their expertise and skills to the public debate about the wisdom of term limitation. They should bring to that debate the commitment to data collection, vigorous analysis, and well-crafted arguments that is characteristic of a systematic and scholarly approach to political inquiry.
Source: Cato Institute 2015-16 voting recommendation on Term Limits , Feb 18, 1992

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Page last updated: Aug 03, 2017