Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tea partiers: Term limits now!

The "tea party" movement is no longer a one-time phenomenon in response to corporate bailouts, stimulus spending, money supply inflation and ballooning government debt. On July 4, over 1,300 more tea party demonstrations were scheduled across the country and -- once again -- calls for term limits were ubiquitous at these events.

It is no wonder. Unemployment is approaching double digits and companies and banks are closing their doors every week. The stock and real estate markets are in the tank. But while people are suffering from the bust, the federal government is enjoying a boom. It is playing the profitable game of Reverse Robin Hood: using the crisis as cover for taking money from the public to bail out and/or pay off specific corporations, banks, unions and other important political constituents.

If citizens believe they are not being represented, they are correct. Incumbent Congress members retake their seats about 95% of the time with minimum of effort, as they either run unchallenged or face vastly underfunded challengers, often gadflies. They hold these seats for decades and then run the Congress by right of seniority. As demonstrated by the Cato Institute, tenure in office is highly correlated to increased spending patterns. Hence, the unbeatable who spend the most run the show.

This is true under Obama and Pelosi as it was under Bush and DeLay. Clearly, last November's election didn't provide the change it promised. Real change will require severing the comfortable relationships between entrenched incumbents and special interests. It will require citizen access to reins of government via rotation in office.

Heed the voters in the streets: it will require term limits.