WAYS FOR IMPROVING FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

(This Op-Ed appears in Florida Today newspaper, January 24, 2018)

Here is a plan that would greatly improve our government process.

  • Term and age limits: For U.S. senators, two 6-year terms, twelve years in office maximum. For the House, six terms maximum, two years each. Maximum age: 80.

America does not need career politicians. We need the most qualified and able who will work in the interests of the people. Going into office, politicians will know when they will be passing the baton to someone else. This also allows senators and Congress members time to work instead of constantly running for office. Term limits of 15 years and/or age restrictions should also be extended to federal judges and the U.S. Supreme Court. There are many reasons to support such laws, and few reasons to oppose them.

  • This may require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but campaign contributions to candidates running for federal office, including the president, should be outlawed from private citizens, large corporations and special interest groups. No elected representative of the people should be beholden to financial paybacks.

When a cop takes money for favors, he goes to jail. When a politician takes money for favors, he goes to Washington. The system invites corruption. Congress members spend half their time running for the next election and attending fundraisers. Campaign budgets for federal officials can be financed by the taxpayer by assessing a modest fee in all income tax filings. With some 153 million taxes filed this year, according to the IRS, that would provide ample funds to run campaigns and establish honesty in government. It would also give voters a peek at how they manage a budget.

  • Establish minimum standards for holding office. For every state and federal job in America, there are basic requirements for qualification, why not politicians? The standards for Senate, House and president are basically nil. The constitution was ratified when the population was less than 4 million and the problems of commerce, taxes, laws, immigration, and national security were far less complex than today. Politicians should be vetted by bi-partisan panels to ensure we are not voting for untrustworthy or incompetent representatives. This should be particularly strict for anyone running for president. Background matters. Achievements matter. Dishonesty matters. The FBI has a system for vetting applicants, why not use the same for federal politicians?
  • Fire or impeach blatantly dishonest politicians. Systems should be designed whereby any senator, congressman or president who knowingly violates the public trust by overtly lying should be booted out of office. Politicians who lie about one issue will lie about anything. Blatant dishonesty in political ads should also disqualify a candidate. It’s time we stop joking about dishonest politicians and start holding them accountable.
  • Keep media out of politics. We have had a number of influential people in the mainstream media who had close relatives, including spouses, employed by the White House or in government positions of high sensitivity. This compromises the integrity of government as well as media focus if and when they have special interests in government policy. That translates to skewing news and information by favoring with one side or the other.
  • Special prosecutors assigned to investigate corruption or other scandals, should be appointed by a non-partisan panel and not by the president or the attorney general, especially when the focus is, in fact, on the president or the attorney general. Further, the attorney general should be an elected official answerable to the citizens and not a guardian of the president.  Ninety percent of states elect their attorneys general.
  • Absolutely require photo identification for eligible voters at every election and establish rules and process that are the same in every state, particularly for federal elections. Voters should produce evidence of being qualified citizens. There is nothing racist or malicious about that. This would curtail ineligible voting, and prevent those who may vote more than once. If people can get their welfare I.D., they can get their voter I.D.

I know.  I’m not holding a breath.

20 Responses to WAYS FOR IMPROVING FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

  1. Charlie Greene January 24, 2018 at 9:16 am #

    Read your column in today’s paper. Spot on Marshall. We need time limits in congress. our demo senator Nelson should have been gone long ago.

  2. Charles Pierce January 24, 2018 at 9:45 am #

    I agree with about 90% of what you have written, in fact it will take Constitutional Amendment to accomplish most of the ideas. I would suggest if you have time to go to https://www.conventionofstates.com/ web site and read the proposed amendment. Balance budget, Term limits on Congressperson and Senators, and the end of administrative law. It is not perfect by any means as I believe that the convention must go farther. Strengthen the Bill of Rights, Time limits and financial limits on political campaigns, restrictions on lobbing by former elected and appointed government officials. These are for starters.

  3. Larry Usoff, US Navy Ret. January 24, 2018 at 10:12 am #

    I’m all for term limits, but I think yours are too long. For Senators, ONE 8-year term, maximum age 75. For the House, TWO 4-year terms, maximum age 75. Senate would run in even years, House in odd years. Here’s something I’ve tried to push for years: EVERY bill that’s introduced MUST be a stand-alone piece of legislation…no riders or attachments allowed. If it cannot stand by itself, it doesn’t need to be. Also, tie the salary of members of Congress to the same limits as SS or COLA. During campaigns if a PROMISE is made it must be kept or they have to resign. Florida may be the only state where you have to resign to run, and I’m not sure if that’s for Federal offices or all offices. Most of the rest of it I like.

  4. Ron Rincones January 24, 2018 at 10:17 am #

    Before election, and while campaigning for office, they spout a good game, with promises to fix things that are wrong in congress, but when arriving in Washington, they quickly learn play ball or else! Then the lobbyists take over and all the good deeds and promises are quickly forgotten. I’m glad you’re not holding your breath Marshall, for it will serve no purpose other than possibly your early demise. I add that they should all be under the same guidelines for regular citizens regarding retirement, perks, and health care!

    Chuckled, when I admired your new pic!

    • Ron Rincones January 24, 2018 at 10:22 am #

      PS: Just realized the picture is not new, but for some reason just it struck me today. :o)

  5. Thomas Ault January 24, 2018 at 10:31 am #

    As always you make a good argument. I believe that we need to go a bit further regarding laws and bill enactments. It is my opinion we have far too many mandatory laws wherein the citizenry are being herded like cattle in a pen. Without the freedom to explore new things without government intervention, many have no desire to have their lives upended by the stupidity of people making laws to govern things they have no concept of.

    I was shocked when I started looking into the things that regulate every aspect of my life and the lives of our children. It is not wonder we are now living in a Godless country and if we continue down this road of destruction, we will be seeing firsthand the destruction that was written about in Deuteronomy.

  6. BARRY CRANE January 24, 2018 at 11:37 am #

    I BELIEVE IT SHOULD BE ONE AND DONE FOR ALL MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. IN ADDITION, NO FORMER MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OR SENATE SHOULD BE PERMITTED TO BE A BRIBE GIVER — EXCUSE ME, A LOBBYIST — OR REPRESENT A FOREIGN GOVERNMENT OR A FOREIGN GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY.

  7. Jack Milavic January 24, 2018 at 11:57 am #

    Young Marshall,

    Completely agree. Also, suggest all politicians undergo a Top Secret Background Clearance investigation.

  8. Ron Fischer January 24, 2018 at 12:22 pm #

    Excellent observations and solution proposals Marshall. But it would make sense to include a change that would mandate all politicians live by the same laws they pass too.

    I also like shorter term limits and lower the age to 70 (most politicians are senile by age 35!)

  9. Ron Fischer January 24, 2018 at 2:17 pm #

    Something else that’s long overdue is to make American English the national language and if you can’t speak it, read it, or write it, you can’t be a citizen and you can’t vote.

  10. Helen Frigo January 24, 2018 at 2:25 pm #

    Our Founding Fathers disagreed, saying, why should we be deprived of the services of a dedicated and hard working representative. Why don’t you turn your wrath on UNELECTED bureaucrats? John Edgar Hoover, for instance. Reading all the mysteries written by Elliot Roosevelt, it seemed to be common knowledge that Hoover dined almost every night with his male companion, at an expensive Washington restaurant where he NEVER picked up a check. He whipped this country up into a frenzy over “Communism”, and destroyed how many lives? “Trumbo” with Brian Cranston is only part of the story. His son made a documentary, also named “Trumbo”, that has Liam Neeson, among others, reading the actual documents. Nancy Pelosi’s my age. How she works so hard, even with all the long plane trips, I don’t know. She has to get elected every 2 years, and she usually gets over 60% of the votes. How’s FL doing? State Senator Joe Negron has to leave now, before our water problems are solved. Are we better off?

  11. George Sigrist January 25, 2018 at 3:50 pm #

    Agree with your comments and opinions regarding term limits. We think alike on those aspects. Another interesting column, and, as you stated, our constitution needs “tweaking” yet expected anything out of Washington politicians…well…you get my drift. Good thoughts, great article.

  12. Frank Clifford January 25, 2018 at 3:58 pm #

    Two years is too short for House members because they engage in exactly what you later describe as preparing for the next election. Maybe 4 3-yr terms. And it would key to youp plan that a person only gets one 12-years stint in his or her life. None of this staying out one term and coming back. That’s still a virtual career. The idea is to keep new blood flowing.

    The downside, Marsh, is that issues have become so complex that it’s virtually impossible for a House member, especially, to learn a lot about them. That’s the value of having long-term service, the corporate knowledge. (But I still agree that there needs to be an end to the long-term service at some point. None of this 30- and 40-yr BS.)

    All of your suggestions would require amending the Constitution. There are so many party big wigs who are scared s—less of a Constitutional convention because it can raise all sorts of proposed amendments, upsetting the liberal/progressive apple cart largely fashioned by SCOTUS over the decades.

  13. Snake Hunter{s} January 25, 2018 at 7:46 pm #

    This Article In “Florida Today’ newspaper– term limits — deserves national exposure.

    >>

    I’d love to see it read on television by great reporters like Brit Hume… or Lew Dobbs,

    or perhaps Sean Hannity. Any one of these have rare – CREDIBILITY, that is so

    obviously missing on the “fake news channels” that so often choose to either distort,

    or ignore, fabulous achievements (count ’em) of a non-political NYC businessman,

    In One Year! Honestly compare this year, w/Barack Hussein Obama’s Eight Years.

    >>

    Yep. Happy Days Are Here Again… We can all Believe in America Again!

    >>

    Thanks Marshall, for another fine essay. reb
    ___ ___

  14. JAAO January 25, 2018 at 8:33 pm #

    Excellent Marshall, getting rid of the funding time would save millions that could go to improving the needs of the most needy.
    , I prefer :
    four three year terms for the House,
    changing the benefits which each member receives,
    benefits should be similar to other government workers,
    laws apply to them with no exceptions

    A fair and honest system will attract the best and most able ,

  15. Helen Frigo January 26, 2018 at 1:38 pm #

    So not a word about how to prevent another John Edgar Hoover? And who is the “Mayor of the Pentagon” now? Remember when the CEO of Digital Domain, who received $30 million? of FL taxpayer $$, hired the then “Mayor of the Pentagon” and paid him $100,000 a year? Is it true there has never been an audit of the Pentagon? The Constitution requires regular audits of all government departments. How big is the Pentagon now, with how many employees, all unelected? Yet you all are outraged about Nancy Pelosi, for instance? Remember Claude Pepper? How many of you have ever been elected, e.g, chosen by the people? Marshall received a salary from taxpayers for how many years?
    Did the people he served get a chance to vote him off the job? Was he required to meet health and fitness standards? George Washington insisted on MORE representatives elected by the people, and he himself was 12 years in like the State legislature, and he really wanted to run for a 3rd term, but the “pundits” were all after him too, calling him “too aristocratic”, and mad at him for NOT starting a war with France, coddling Great Britain, taking executive action to keep us neutral, etc.

    • Marcy January 26, 2018 at 2:48 pm #

      Helen, if you are asking if Marshall was ever required to meet health and fitness standards, yes, he was, every year. He was also evaluated every year for his job performance. Can we say the same about Nancy Pelosi? I haven’t seen any heath reports from her.

  16. Adamsalan January 27, 2018 at 12:58 pm #

    Marshall, your under 80…I vote for you!

  17. Jack Milavic January 28, 2018 at 11:47 am #

    Excellent Article. Many of us have been suggesting complete Top Secret Background Checks for past years but not being received well.

  18. freewoman January 28, 2018 at 11:04 pm #

    Re: Top Secret Background Checks

    It is totally beyond me why anyone who might possibly have access to any source of information whatsoever to matters which might compromise these US of A does not have to be compelled to undergo a thorough background check.

    When my husband, being a part of the US military, declared that he intended to marry me, a foreign national, his security clearance was instantly withdrawn.
    It was not renewed until a thorough back ground check had been made on me.
    And clearly one does not have to be a foreign national to pose a threat to us.

    Re: “if you can’t speak it, read it, or write it, you can’t be a citizen” When I became an American citizen, many moons ago, it was a requirement that an applicant for citizenship have a working knowledge of our language.

    We have been going down the drain for a long, long time.