Wednesday, November 23, 2005

This Spendthrift Republican Congress: Do You Know What it Tells Me?

There is no doubt that this current spendthrift Republican Congress should be tamed. But how? The president, for all his great points, will not veto a single appropriation and does not serve as a brake on spending. I’ve been a congressional staffer myself, working for ambitious Congressmen, and I know the temptation after you move to Washington is to stay there—and to stay there you have to play the appropriations game.

The answer, I think, is to encourage Republican candidates to voluntarily embrace term limits. And to see that they observe them. The most unique public servant I’ve met in at least 20 years is Tom Coburn, now the U. S. Senator from Oklahoma. You’ve heard of him, I’m sure. He’s a medical doctor, a obstetrician. He ran for the House and was elected pledging to serve three terms. Which he did. Knowing that he would only serve three terms, Tom did things with appropriations that for a normal careerist would seem foolhardy: and it was.

A Republican, he challenged Newt on appropriations and angered Denny Hastert but proved himself an invaluable player. He took time off back in Oklahoma and then ran for the Senate with a two-term limit. He was elected. You saw Tom on the floor of the Senate not long ago seeking to cut appropriations including the infamous Bridge to Nowhere which outraged Alaska’s Ted Stevens, the chairman of Appropriations. The Bridge was cut. But Coburn’s brilliance of execution convinced me (and I was a doubter of term limits) that increasingly Republicans should reward those who apply it. It doesn’t have to be in the form of a Constitutional amendment or even a policy rule in the Congress (it wouldn’t get through in any rate). But just as good would be its voluntary application by those seeking office.

I’m not sure but I think the only Republican running for Congress in Illinois pledging term limits is Dave McSweeney in the 8th. One Republican who ran supporting term limits and who reneged is John Shimkus. Breaking your word and deciding to become a careerist when you promised not to is, well, a breach of contract. Republicans ought to put pressure on federal candidates for term limits. Knowing you will not be a lifer will make you more courageous in Congress. Speaking of Tom Coburn, I’m seriously thinking of starting a move to convince him to run for president (where two terms are all one gets).


  1. Tom Colburn and Ron Paul are two American Patriots. Thanks for the article.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Excellent presidential contest. Obama could explain why he supports the Bridge to Nowhere, sugar tariffs that kill jobs in Chicago, and Dick Durbin in general to the general public rather than to the star-struck press.


  3. I, for one, don't think people care about the overspending by Congress. Look at how a lot of people are living--way beyond their means at every income level. Why now you can get an interest only mortgage. When do you pay it off?You don't--your kids do when you die by selling the house.
    Term limits?Forget it. Why should my representative quit after so many years and their yo-yo keeps on going? And why would any voter care about term limits?There are no limits in this culture save a few die hards that actually believe that human beings have souls.

  4. Congressman Don Manzullo also ran on a 6 term limit platform in 1994. He has since discovered that he is a somebody in Washington but that his word means nothing.

  5. Congressman Tim Johnson by running this next election cycle is breaking his pledge and he took money from the Term Limits PAC and they ran endorsement commercials for him during his first primary.