Congressional Pensions??

2016-08-29_15-51-30.pngWhen our founders set up our government their intention was that its citizens would come to the nation’s capital for a period of time  to contribute to the running of the people’s business and would then return to their normal lives.  Of course that is not what is happening today. There are way too many people  in our congress who are now collecting very lucrative pensions even after even relatively short terms in congress. There are those like Strom Thurmond, who have been there for decades and seem to want to die in office. John McCain first comes to mind in this category.

One of the major problems with this current mode of doing business, or more appropriately not doing business, is that the common good of the nation is forgotten in the process. Our representatives primary goal is to do everything possible to stay in office. The money needed to do that is what causes most of our problems.

The gridlock that we find ourselves in today is primarily due to two causes: unlimited terms in office and the gerrymandering that makes it possible.  When it seems that there are so many around that are very upset with the current political situation, I am really somewhat hopeful. If the GOP is decisively defeated in the coming election I am hoping that will cause a primary shift in the way all those yahoos think inside the beltway. They will finally understand that creating gridlock will not keep them in office.

With that renewed sanity, some there just might take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The party that is able to do that the most successfully will have the best chances of survival. No longer will the party over principles rule the day as seems so endemic today.  The second thing that then needs to be accomplished is for the Supreme Court to declare gerrymandering to be unconstitutional. Then it is up to us, as citizens, demand term limits similar to what was instituted for the president more than a half century ago. If more than eight years is too long for a president it should also be too long for members of congress.

The second shoe that will drop with term limits is to eliminate congressional pensions. No one will be around long enough to need them. Representing the people will finally be considered a limited time privilege and not an occupation as the inventors of our form of government intended.

I am a dreamer aren’t I????

It often takes some catastrophic event to cause paradigm shifts in how we do things. I am hoping that will be the case in the coming months and years.  WE simply can’t continue down the current road if we hope to survive as a nation.

One thought on “Congressional Pensions??

  • Hi, RJ.

    I commented last week on the Clinton Foundation and potential influence peddling. Your response included your belief that we need to institute term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court. This caused me to think about my feelings on a number of topics related to Congress and gridlock. Your outlook on things tends to be pretty similar to mine, so I found today’s post to cover much of the same ground as my thoughts last week. Funny how great minds think alike 🙂

    I agree with the notion of Congressional term limits. After a little thought, I eventually settled on a limit of two terms in either house, or in combination. I am a little concerned about how term limits may affect the types and quality of individuals willing to serve. Who would be willing to interrupt their career for a few years and temporarily maintain dual residences in their home state and in Washington? We may need to offer some inducements while in office, like travel budgets, relocation expenses, and housing and/or living expenses. However, unless there is convincing evidence of need, I think that Congressional benefits should be limited to those of regular Federal employees, and this includes pensions and medical benefits.

    We need to do something to eliminate gerrymandering. I absolutely agree that this is one of the central causes of the gridlock in Washington. We currently have a set of gerrymandered districts that have safe seats for both parties and a limited number of truly contested seats. This has led to increased extremism in the safe districts and to increased polarization in Washington. And Congress’ approval ratings are in the teens. I’m not sure what we can do with this, as redistricting is performed and controlled at the state level. I don’t agree that the solution lies in the Supreme Court, but I doubt that it would occur without some sort of Federal mandate and oversight.

    We need to do something to reduce the influence of money in politics. To me, there is little difference between buying access, buying influence and out-and-out bribery. We need to get rid of PACs, as there is far too little transparency in where the money comes from and where it goes. I understand that our Congressional representatives spend a significant fraction of their time raising money; for what it’s worth, I’d rather they were working on legislation and constituent services.

    These, to me, are probably the most important issues. But there are others. Examples? What do we need to do to change the infrastructure of lobbyists and legislative staffers? I think we’ve probably gone beyond what is necessary and beneficial in government assistance, whether to business, agriculture, the poor or any other special interest. How do we rein in the resulting culture of entitlement that we seem to have created? How can we make sure that assistance programs hit the intended targets and are effective?

    By the way, I’m not convinced about Supreme Court term limits. An intriguing idea, but how do we shorten terms for the SCOTUS without giving some president the ability to pack the court with a given ideology? And, since all Federal judges have lifetime appointments, what do we do with the lower courts? Too many questions with too many unintended consequences for me at this point in time.

    Well, sorry if this too long, but it’s a great topic. I love your blog. Keep up the good work.

    Like

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