Proposal for Congressional Term Limits and Retirement

A recent meme stated the following:

“In 1947, Congress passed the 22nd Amendment, limiting the President to 2 terms. They said, ‘Too much power for too long is a threat to our freedom.’ It’s time to limit Congress for the same reason. Share if you agree.”

I agree, but only in part, and for some very sound reasons.

Both Continuity and Expertise across multiple fields (areas of discipline) are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to the long-term health of any and all complex organizations.

Congress is not a backyard clubhouse, and neither is the Air Force.

In the Air Force we achieved the requisite Continuity and Experience by:

  • codifying all essential and critical tasks into our system of regulations
  • carefully training everyone in their primary duties
  • providing reasonable training for additional duties
  • ensuring everyone amassed experience in multiple additional duties
  • continuing to keep solid performers on duty for years

Furthermore, each office of both primary and additional duties was required to keep a Continuity Folder detailing the duty, including description, responsibilities, list of all directly applicable and even partially relevant regulations, points of contact, etc.

Although personnel would usually PCS every 2-5 years, they might hold between 1 and 3 primary positions and upwards of half a dozen additional duties while on station.

Thus, by the time someone became the commander of a squadron, they probably held at least 7 primary positions and 15 additional duties. The same goes for all ranks, both officer and enlisted.

Most importantly, however, is the fact that we (usually) did not throw good talent out the window.

The problem with limiting Congress to, say, four to six years is that you’re throwing that experience out the window at the point where the individual has just finished their initial learning curves.

You CANNOT run Congress by tossing everyone out the window between 2 and 6 years any more than you can run an organization by limiting yourselves to recent college graduates. You have GOT to have at least SOME long-term continuity, experience, and savvy wisdom.

That said, careful turnover can revitalize an organization, hence my proposal for limiting Congress by means of three Duodecennial Phases:

1. PHASE I i.e First Duodecennial: 0 years up to 12 years. All members of Congress in their first twelve years, cumulative, contiguous or non-contiguous, are considered to be in Phase I. This includes time accumulated in another house. They will continue to campaign as described in the Constitution, with members of the House competing for reelection every two years and members of the Senate competing for reelection every six years. In light of the need for less campaigning and more focusing on matters of state, I recommend House terms be doubled to four years. Three House terms and two Senate terms both meet the duodecennial (12-year) limit.

2. PHASE II i.e Second Duodecennial: >12 years up to 24 years. All members of Congress desiring to serve beyond their first twelve years, cumulative, contiguous or non-contiguous, are subject to a lottery-ball style random cut. This includes time accumulated in another house. Fifty percent (50%) of those who enter will be allowed to campaign for reelection. The other fifty percent must return to the private sector. Since not all members of Congress are reelected, the actual percentage of those continuing beyond twelve years will be somewhere between 25% and 50% — probably around a third.

3. PHASE III i.e. Third Duodecennial: >24 years up to 36 years. All members of Congress desiring to continue serving beyond twenty-four years must enter the Congressional Phase III Lottery. Fifty percent (50%) of those who enter will be allowed to campaign for reelection. The other fifty percent must return to the private sector. This group will incur similar levels of additional attrition as the result of the election.

4. No member of Congress may serve beyond thirty-six years total cumulative Congressional service, contiguous or non-contiguous. This includes time accumulated in another house.

5. No member of Congress may serve beyond the age of seventy (70), and are prohibited from running for any term of service during which their 70th birthday will fall before the first day of the immediately following term.

6. RETIREMENT: Accrual of time for Congressional retirement begins on the first day of their Second Duodecennial (Phase II).

6a. No member of Congress shall accrue any retirement for serving during Phase I.

6b. Retirement accrual during Phase II will be on a linearly prorated basis from 0% at the beginning of Phase II up to a maximum of 50% of the Congressman’s highest base salaries for the last three years of their service. If it’s good enough for our Armed Forces, it’s good enough for Congress.

6c. Retirement accrual during Phase III will be on a linearly prorated basis up to a maximum of 75% of the Congressman’s highest base salaries for the last three years of their service. Again, if it’s good enough for our Armed Forces, it’s good enough for Congress.

6d. Congressional retirement COLA will be computed using precisely the same formula used to compute retirement COLA for members of the Armed Forces. Yet again, if it’s good enough for our Armed Forces, it’s good enough for Congress.

6e. All members of Congress who have not completed 12 full years (4,380 days) of service as a sworn member of Congress as of the date this bill passes will be subject to the retirement provisions contained herein. All members of Congress who have completed 12 full years (4,380 days) of service as a sworn member of Congress as of the date this bill passes will be subject to the retirement provisions of their previous programs. All members of Congress, however, are immediately subject to all other provisions of this bill.

7. All members of Congress ARE subject to the same impeachment via the same set of rules as used for all other members of the Federal Government also subject to impeachment, except that no member of Congress will be subject to the same special rules reserved for the President of the United States of America, such as requiring the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court to preside over the proceedings.

8. The Duodecennial Congressional Lottery will be conducted 365 +/- 3 days prior to the date of election on which a member of Congress could be elected from one Duodecennial Phase to the next. All members of Congress up for reelection in both houses will be subject to the same lottery at the same time. The lottery process will proceed as follows:

In full view of both Congress and the televised viewing public, not to mention a non-Congressional team of ELECTION AUDITORS, a fully see-through, crystal clear ping-pong ball lottery machine will be set up in Congress, along with a craps-like table suitable for rolling a die off a far wall of the table, and six bins. The balls will be numbered 1 through x, where x is equal to the (roughly 450) total number of Phase II Duodecennial members of both the House and Senate subject to the lottery. NO balls will be loaded into the machine until the appropriate time as proscribed, below.

A very simple approach:

Print (via computer, not hand-written) sequential numbers on squares of paper equaling the number of members of Congress up for their Duodecennial lotteries.

Mix up those numbers thoroughly, then divide them into six roughly equal bins.

Every member of Congress participating in the lottery rolls a die, then retrieves a single slip of paper from the bin corresponding to his roll of the die.

The number is recorded on THE BIG BOARD and represents their turn in the process, which is both live-broadcast and videotaped so no one can change things, later.

The ping-pong ball lottery machine begins!

As each number is called, the candidates step forward. A single ping-pong ball enters the viewing port. If it’s odd, they WIN! If it’s even, they LOSE.

All equipment is thoroughly inspected prior to the process, monitored throughout the process, then secured for final analysis and inspection by the TEAM OF AUDITORS. Naturally, everything is video-taped by many Full HD, slow-motion (240 fps) cameras from many angles under a cascade of bright lights, as well, all of which is made available to both the auditors, Congress, and We the People.

QUESTION: If they lose the lottery one year, can they run again in two years? I say, NO. Such is life. The Fates have spoken. Thank you for your service, but do what the rest of us do and search for another job.

THE POINT IS: There are many ways of providing for healthy turnover while eliminating the naturally-occurring but counterproductive power blocs to which power-hungry humans seem to flock. Blindly setting all term limits at 2, 4, or even 6 years, however, is definitely not the solution. Even limiting everyone to 12 years would catastrophically decapitate Congress, throwing both wisdom and experience out the window. That’s an extremely poor, if not myopically stupid solution to the problem.

Something, however, MUST be done, and progressively limiting members of Congress at 12 and 24 years with a 50% cap while capping them all at 36 years 100% DOES accomplish this goal while preserving a good measure of the knowledge, experience and wisdom required to facilitate the ongoing operations of all healthy organizations.

CASE IN POINT: Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the Father of the Nuclear Navy, was by all rights a real bastard. Without him and everything about him that was him, however, our nuclear navy would never have been the world leader that it was.

He served a total of 63 years in the United States Navy, longer than any other officer in American history.

I can name just four members of Congress good enough to serve half that long.

Even thirty-four years after his death, Admiral Rickover’s legacy remains as a heavy indictment of modern liberal idiocy:

“Given Rickover’s single-minded focus on naval nuclear propulsion, design, and operations, it came as a surprise to many in 1982, near the end of his career, when he testified before the U.S. Congress that, were it up to him what to do with nuclear powered ships, he “would sink them all.” At a congressional hearing Rickover testified that:

I do not believe that nuclear power is worth it if it creates radiation. Then you might ask me why do I have nuclear powered ships. That is a necessary evil. I would sink them all. I am not proud of the part I played in it. I did it because it was necessary for the safety of this country. That’s why I am such a great exponent of stopping this whole nonsense of war. Unfortunately limits—attempts to limit war have always failed. The lesson of history is when a war starts every nation will ultimately use whatever weapon it has available. … Every time you produce radiation, you produce something that has a certain half-life, in some cases for billions of years. … It is important that we control these forces and try to eliminate them.—?Economics of Defense Policy: Hearing before the Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, 97th Cong., 2nd sess., Pt. 1 (1982)

“A few months later, following his retirement, Rickover spoke more specifically regarding the questions “Could you comment on your own responsibility in helping to create a nuclear navy? Do you have any regrets?”:

I do not have regrets. I believe I helped preserve the peace for this country. Why should I regret that? What I accomplished was approved by Congress—which represents our people. All of you live in safety from domestic enemies because of security from the police. Likewise, you live in safety from foreign enemies because our military keeps them from attacking us. Nuclear technology was already under development in other countries. My assigned responsibility was to develop our nuclear navy. I managed to accomplish this.