Referencing Steve R. Smith’s letter April 28 (“Put term limits on Congress”), I fully agree with his premise concerning the need for term limits for our legislators, but for very different reasons.
His argument seems to be based on the physical effect upon the members of Congress simply by the stressful nature of the job, resulting in a decreased ability to function effectively over a long period.
I feel, on the other hand, that most legislators soon become enamored of the lavish perks afforded them while in office and after retirement, and seeking to perpetuate their time in office becomes their primary goal – often to the detriment of enacting good legislation. Earmarks promoted by lobbyists are a prime example, resulting in reciprocal campaign contributions from the rewarded contractors as well as votes from an appreciative constituency.
The system is carefully constructed and solidly entrenched to ensure its continued existence, as long as term limits are not imposed. Certainly, enacting fair and wise laws under a barrage of arm-twisting lobbyists is a daunting task, but considering the members-only parking spaces, elevators, dining rooms, exercise facilities, tennis courts, special airport amenities, generous salaries with annual cost-of-living adjustments, great health care, retirement and death benefits for their survivors – and the unique prestige that comes with it – the job surely takes on a very desirable aura.
Term limits would change all of this drastically, upsetting the very structure of the lobbying business and eliminating much of the incentive for frivolous spending as well as allowing legislators the freedom to concentrate on the issues from a more objective point of view.
A less stressful environment for Congress members, as suggested by Mr. Smith, would, of course, be another obvious advantage.