It almost boggles the mind how quickly our elected officials can move when properly motivated and when, in their collective judgment, know they must act. Last weekend those stars aligned over the disgraceful display of the furloughed Air Traffic Controllers by the Federal Aviation Administration. The automatic budget cuts related to the sequester that forced the FAA to furlough air traffic controllers, was quickly resolved.
The FAA was trying to cope with $637 million worth of cuts. They chose to close 149 air-traffic control towers across the U.S. which delayed thousands of flights a day. So the House passed a measure to stop the furloughs and sent it to on to President Obama for his quick signature. The Senate agreed to give the Department of Transportation the ability to transfer $250 million to the FAA. So much for having their hands tied.
Sequester was the coward’s way out for all branches of the federal government. Neither Congress nor the President did their job to solve the financial problems facing the nation. Each blames the other for being unwilling to step forward with solutions to solve these difficult problems. Clearly the administration has the ability to either make the public feel the pain of the sequester cuts or act wisely to use government funds to minimize the hardship of sequester on U.S. citizens.
Now we hear, according to recent reports, House and Senate leadership from both parties are engaged in discussions to exempt lawmakers and congressional staff from enrolling in the health care exchanges as part of the Affordable Healthcare Act, now known as ObamaCare. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) responded to these developments, demanding that lawmakers be beholden to the same laws they have imposed on the American people. He also expressed disappointment that leadership staff and committee staff exempted themselves from the law when it was being drafted.
I wonder how much longer the American public and the national media can continue to allow our elected officials to govern in this manner? These recent actions clearly point to the degree and extent of the breakdown in our government. When forced, they’ll do no more than the limited amount required to maintain their governing status. We should expect more.
I’ve written about it before and it’s time to encourage it once again: We must demand term limits on the individuals we elect to represent us. Last week, U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would limit the number of terms that a member of Congress may serve to three in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has introduced the same congressional term limits in the U.S. Senate.
Term limits for members of Congress have been spotlighted in recent weeks as former Senator and Vice Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman announced that after reflection on his 24 years in office he now supports term limits. Lieberman’s statement was followed by a poll conducted by the Gallup Organization released last week showing that the American people would vote for congressional term limits by a 75-21 margin.
Members of Congress are hearing from their constituents that they want the tough issues resolved rather than this repeated kicking of the can down the road approach. The public realizes that a constitutional amendment limiting terms for members of Congress may be the only way to make our political system work again. It’s time to put our foot down and it’s time to put citizens back in charge. It is time to finally pass congressional term limits.
This won’t be an easy battle despite the strong public sentiment. To become part of the U.S. Constitution, the amendment requires a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress and ratification by three quarters or 38 out of 50 states. It’s time to speak up and speak out. Term limits are long past due, but their time has now come if we want a government for the people and not the politicians who repeatedly place their interests above ours.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.