Sunday, August 21, 2011

Not TERM limits, but SESSION limits

Welcome to Tony Island Blog!

I've been thinking about something lately - let's pretend that we elect a "Tea Party" Congress in 2012. Both houses are firmly in the hands of spending cutters - they take a large axe to much (if not all) of the Federal budget and manage not only to balance it, but to have a surplus that goes toward the debt.

Then what happens after that? How many more Congresses will the people elect that will continue to cut and not spend? Stop wars and not start them? Stop "investing" and start saving?

And my answer to that is...probably very few. It's hard to imagine sending a politician to Washington and have him/her do NOTHING! Think about it - if you sent your rep or Senator to Washington and he reported back to you that he did absolutely nothing - would you re-elect him? Would you seriously re-elect that person?

And I think the answer is: NO! "We sent you there and paid you, now do something for us - send us some Federal tax money for new roads or a new school. Create "green" jobs. "Invest" in infrastructure."

Admit it - you would be the first one to demand that your rep (or Senator) do something while in Congress. And what does she do? Spend, spend, spend.

Most people think the solution to cure Congress' ills is Term Limits, like we have with the President. I am against Presidential Term Limits (but luckily they are there so there will be an end to Obama at some point) as more times than not a President's second term has created all sorts of mischief over the past 60 years or so. Creating a "lame duck" congressman does much of the same thing - if you're not up for re-election there's a large danger you will just vote to spend and spend and spend.

Instead, I would propose session limits. A Congressional session would run from May 30th to Sept 1 (essentially Memorial Day to Labor Day , ie "the summer"). By being in Washington, DC for the hottest part of the year and for a limited time, Congress would be straight jacketed in what it could do. Filibusters lasting a few days could possibly knock legislation to the backburner as time would run out. There would be limited opportunity to create mischief with pork barrel bills, etc.

Of course, there's always the danger that more and more bills would be passed without being read or debated thoroughly - but that happens now, too. Perhaps there would be fewer bills overall with a smaller legislative window.

It's worth some discussion. (Apparently, Nevada has a limited session legislature and things seem to work out there.)

What are your thoughts? Would session limits work better than term limits? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment!

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