Senator Tom Coburn

Congressional Term Limits Amendment Arises Again: Terrible Idea!

A group of conservative Republicans is reviving an idea that failed years ago: Congressional term limits. This is, of course, as likely to happen as men landing on Mars in the next decade! LOL There is no way that Congress will vote to limit its own terms!

This proposal by Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, arguably two of the worst members of the Senate in its history, makes sense if you look at the authors of the proposal, but is pure demagoguery for political purposes and would not be a good development were it to happen in reality!

Their idea is that Senate service should be twelve years or two terms, and House service should be just six years, or three two year terms.

The first question that arises is why the difference in term limits for the two houses, which automatically will make it dead upon arrival. What makes the Senate think it is more important, that therefore it should have twice as much time for service than the House?

Secondly, it fails to hold accountable the average American voter who needs to be held responsible for who is in office, by paying attention to the issues and the incumbents’s records while serving. If the people are informed and unhappy at the performance of their public officials, then they have the option every two years to throw out a Congressman, and every six years to dismiss a Senator to retirement.

Third, if we were to limit officeholders to such short terms of service, then it would mean experience and competence would be thrown out the window, and we would lose many competent, outstanding senators and representatives and have them replaced by political hacks who see the position of serving in Congress as a temporary honor with no commitment to doing good service, but rather favoring special interests to promote their own aggrandizement once they leave the brief public service. It would also give congressional staff members ultimate power because of experience having dealt with the issues of government longer than the actual congressional membership.

Public service should be seen as a commitment and welcome the best among us in society, not to banish them after a preset amount of time. Would we want anyone in any field of work who can contribute good service, such as doctors, lawyers, professors, journalists, engineers, etc, to be told they cannot make a career for which they have major ability to contribute, because of the narrow mindedness of some inferior legislators who do not see public service as a calling, but rather an opportunity to promote an ideological agenda?

Do we really want to lose future Henry Clays, Daniel Websters, Robert LaFollettes, Hubert Humphreys, Robert Tafts, Arthur Vandenbergs, Robert Doles, Ted Kennedys, Sam Rayburns, Thomas O’Neills, and many other distinguished public servants?

I say NO, that the answer is not term limits, but imposing real limits on fundraising by pressure groups on political campaigns, and the need to impose real ethics reforms so that Congress will truly represent the viewpoints of the American people, and not the corrupt intentions of corporate interests that make us mistrust our government leaders.

Executive term limits are one thing–on Presidents, governors and mayors–who individually have real ability to abuse power by unlimited terms. But legislators, not having the same individual power as executives, are best left to the term limits established by the American people at the election booths!

Republicans, The Constitution, And Health Care Reform

As the health care debate heats up tomorrow night when President Obama delivers a prime time speech to a joint session of Congress, we get word that Republicans are claiming that health care is not allowed to be a subject of government initiatives under our venerable Constitution.

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, himself a medical doctor, makes this statement in a very assertive way: The Constitution forbids any action on health care reform.

Let’s think about this: Where does it say in the Constitution that the Congress cannot deal with the issue of health care? Nowhere, Senator Coburn!

But I have a question for Senator Coburn: Where in the Constitution does it say we can have a military draft, or Social Security, or Medicare, or Civil Rights laws, or Environmental Protection Laws, or Consumer Laws, or any of the myriad of laws that have been passed in the 220 year history of our Constitution? The answer is nowhere!

BUT the Founding Fathers, a lot wiser group than most of the members of the Congress, and certainly than most Republicans who have always opposed almost ANY legislation designed to deal with real problems other than building up the military, DID come up with a solution to problems they could not foresee in 1787.

What did they put into the Constitution? ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8–the ELASTIC CLAUSE–which reads that Congress shall make all laws which are NECESSARY AND PROPER, FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE AND THE GENERAL WELFARE!

That “elastic clause” is the basis of ALL significant laws that have been passed in our more than two centuries of America under the Constitution.

And it is clear without question that it IS necessary and proper, for the common defense and general welfare, to pass health care reform, and that it is perfectly legal and constitutional!

So, Senator Coburn, stick to medicine, not the Constitution, which you have no clue to its meaning. You are NOT following the beliefs of the Founding Fathers, no matter what you might think. Health care reform is a necessary step at this point in our history!