Term Limits

Robert Byrd (right), the longest serving senator from West Virginia, her with President Jimmy Carter (left).

How to Fix Congress?

One of the most commonly urged solutions to fix the performance and perception of Congress is to enact term limits.  The idea has widespread popularity across the political spectrum, and 15 state legislatures have adopted term limits.

This was last seriously proposed during the Republican Revolution of 1994 and the Contract with America by Newt Gingrich. The believe is that term limits will encourage “rotation in office” as the founder fathers wanted and move incentives away from aligning politicians objectives re-election and focusing  more on public policy. In addition, there is hope among reformers that term limits would decrease the amount of corruption in Congress.

Not surprisingly, the idea of term limits remains increasing unpopularity with most members of Congress. After all, who want to to pass a law that effectively ends their job? In addition, scholars generally agree that a Constitutional Amendment would be required to enact term limits.

Check out the article below against term limits from Brookings and answer the questions that follow.

Questions for Completion

1.  What arguments, if any, do you find most persuasive for opposing term limits? Why?

2.  Why do you think term limits are so popular with the public yet little has been done to enact them nationally or gain any traction on the issue?

3.  Do you support term limits? Why or why not?


Photo/Image: White House Photo, NARA