You normally wouldn’t expect a 10-term Congressman to be a big term limits supporter but, as this year’s primary campaign made clear, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) isn’t a typical Congressman.
I ran into the Congressman on the campaign trail in Fort Lauderdale last year where we chatted briefly about the prospects for Congressional term limits. Yes, he’s still on board, he assured me. He also inquired about Paul Jacob, the former executive director of U.S. Term Limits.
Rep. Paul most recently reiterated his support for term limits publically in his Dec. 23, 2007, appearance on Meet the Press, where interviewer Tim Russert grilled the Congressman for the alleged contradiction between his tenure and his support for limits on tenure.
"I support term limits," Rep. Paul told Russert. But Rep. Paul pointed out that he does not and has never supported the idea of self-limiting, but only a term limit requirement on the entire Congress.
“Matter of fact, some of the best people that I worked with, who were the most principled, came in on voluntary term limits,” said Paul. “So some of the good people left.” To get the institutional benefits of term limits, it has to be applied to the whole body.
So is this just political double-speak? Not in Rep. Paul’s case. In his first stint in Congress (1976-1984), well before the term limits explosion of the early 1990s, he was the first representative in modern history to submit a term limits bill for Congress. He voted for all the term limits bills during the Contract with America era and continues to publically support the idea.
He says term limits are a first step, but insists that we must go further.
“To restrict and reduce the power of incumbency, we should address the sweeping powers that the federal government possesses,” he wrote in a pro-term limits press release some years back. He also called for the abolition of the lucrative Congressional pension plan which he does not participate in.
To sign the petition calling for Congressional term limits, see: www.termlimits.org.