By Bob Elliott
Did you hear that huge collective sign of relief on election day?
To paraphrase the late great Grantland Rice: When the one great vote counter comes to announce the totals, it’s not whether your candidate won or lost, but that the campaign is finally, finally over.
Even though I dabbled in it myself when I was younger, I’ve pretty much had it with the
trash we now call political campaigning — especially at the national level. Candidates appear to have no shame, and once elected, they display a level of civility usually observed among second-graders fighting in a sandbox.
Our politics is just plain out of control. For instance, our young men and women serve in the U.S. military for 20 years, risking their lives protecting our freedoms, and get to retire on 50 percent of their active-duty pay. Now consider that our politicians hold their positions in the safe confines of the capital, and they need to serve as little as one term in office to qualify for retirement on full pay.
It makes no sense. So why aren’t we all sticking our heads out the window and yelling, “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it any longer!”
So I branch to an email forwarded to me several months ago. The claim was that Warren Buffett initiated it. Regardless of whether he did, it’s worth sharing because of what’s happening and not happening with our dysfunctional Congress.
Could the following be a Congressional Reform Act?
l No tenure/no pension — Congressman/women collect salary while in office and receive no pay when they’re out of office.
l Congress participates in Social Security — All funds in the Congressional retirement fund are moved to the Social Security System. Members of Congress can purchase their own retirement plans and/or participate in Social Security, same as all other U.S. citizens.
l Congress no longer votes itself pay raises — Their periodic pay increases would be determined by a modest percentage of the Consumer Price Index.
l Congress loses its current health care system — Members of Congress would have access to the same health care programs as other U.S. citizens.
l Congress must equally abide by all laws its members pass — Same as all other U.S. citizens.
l Term limits for Congress — Reduce Senate terms to five years and increase House terms to three years. Then no one elected to Congress serves more than two terms.
Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. Our Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so our elected congressional representatives should serve their term(s), then go home and back to other work.
If only we could have such a constitutional amendment. Then someone with a Charles Dickens background might remark: It is a far, far better Congress we have now than we have ever known before.
Bob Elliott, longtime resident of Iowa City, served a term on the City Council and is retired after 30 years at ACT’s national office.Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org