3. Even the best elected officials need to have term limits. There is no doubt that Lugar has been a statesman and that his career in public service should be held in high esteem. But he will have served in the Senate for 36 years — so long that many voters in Indiana perceived he was out of touch.
Our founders never envisioned a system where our representatives would make elective office into a permanent job. Yet this has happened, contributing to a system where career politicians focus on the next election rather than the best interests of the country.
The solution is to impose common-sense term limits — long enough terms to build the relationships and knowledge necessary to be effective but not so long that politicians view their office as a career rather than temporary public service. I propose we set term limits for Members of Congress at 12 years to 18 years. Moreover, let’s consider increasing the term lengths for House members from two years to four. That would make those representatives less likely to begin campaigning for the next election the day after they win their seat. Changing the presidency to one six-year term also makes sense.
I am confident that the American people can get behind all of these reforms. In my fiscal tour travels, Americans consistently tell me that they want action on the many challenges that threaten our nation — yet they see a government paralyzed by partisanship. Their message to our elected officials is clear: You were sent to Washington to solve problems. So do so, or go home.
David M. Walker is former comptroller general of the United States and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative.
On January 3, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., raises her right hand as her son Henry messes up her hair while Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., delivers the ceremonial swearing-in in the Old Senate Chamber. Gillibrand's other son Theodore, lower right, looks on.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.