Philip Blumel: A Congress member lives up to his word. No joke. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits movement for the week of December 16, 2019.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: It was announced last week that two more Republican Congress members are leaving that body in 2020, one because he took an oath to do so. The other, well, US Term Limits executive director, Nick Tomboulides, will help tell the story. Hey Nick.
Nick Tomboulides: Hello sir.
Philip Blumel: So we’re losing another member of the Congress to retirement, but this one, a Congressman from Florida, has a particularly interesting reason for his retirement. Take it away.
Nick Tomboulides: Yes, Ted Yoho, a Congressman from Gainesville, who ran on term limits initially, has decided he’s going to keep his four-term pledge and step down from Congress after eight years. So kudos to him.
Philip Blumel: Absolutely. You know, he’s talked about this in his campaign running for the Congress. In fact, he has a classic political ad that we should review right now.
Ted Yoho: Career politicians, they’re like pigs feeding at the trough. Career politicians got us in this mess, but all they do is throw mud at each other. I’m Ted Yoho. I’m a conservative businessman and a veterinarian. The career politicians have given a $16 trillion in debt. It’s time for new leadership. I’ll repeal Obamacare and balance the budget. And after eight years in Washington, I’ll come home. Let’s put the mudslinging aside, run the pigs out of the trough and put America first. I’m Ted Yoho and I approve this message. How about you?
Philip Blumel: Well, he made it pretty clear he was only going to be in Washington for eight years and now he’s fulfilling that promise.
Nick Tomboulides: Yoho, Yoho, no political career for me. Pirates of the Caribbean reference. Nobody. Okay. So I’m happy with what he’s doing, but it’s a little bit frustrating honestly, because he term limits himself, but he never supports an amendment to term limit the whole Congress.
Philip Blumel: Right.
Nick Tomboulides: So it’s like, what are you afraid of? Considering that he’s actually a good guy, one of the few congressmen who’s I would say pretty widely respected, tends to vote his conscience. Only term limiting himself is sort of a stupid idea because it goes back to the two types of term limit pledges there are for politicians. There’s a huge difference between the two.
Nick Tomboulides: The self limit pledge is when a politician says, “I will personally only serve X number of years and then I’ll retire.” It’s good. This is what he’s doing. Helps create a culture of term limits, but it doesn’t actually drain the entire swamp because only good guys make that promise. The bad guys either refuse or they’ll make it and break it.
Philip Blumel: Well, that’s a good point. So it doesn’t really change Congress when one person term limits themselves. It’s about having the entire Congress rotate, new ideas come in, competitive elections across the board. When one person does it, it just doesn’t give you the full effect. So what he really needed to do was to become active in trying to get an amendment passed so that term limits would be imposed on everyone. But he didn’t do that. And he did not even sign the US term limit’s pledge, which I found very disappointing and also surprising.
Nick Tomboulides: And of course the first type of pledge is to self limit, which he’s done. The other type is a constitutional limit, a pledge for constitutional limit. That’s what ours is. That’s when you promise to support an amendment for term limits on all of Congress. Our pledge is that type of commitment and that’s generally the type of pledge that we recommend because it’s binding, it applies to everyone. It takes down not just the good guys, but also your Nancy Pelosis, your Chuck Schumers, your Alcee Hastings, et cetera.
Philip Blumel: That’s right.
Nick Tomboulides: For the life of me though, I can’t figure out why Ted Yoho and some of these other so-called good congressmen like Thomas Massey don’t care more about constitutional term limits. They’re kind of like janitors on the Titanic in a way. They’re standing around, they’re sweeping the floor, they’re voting against corrupt bills, but those bills still pass anyway. They’re doing nothing to avoid the big problem, to avoid the iceberg and pursue big structural changes like term limits that would move the entire structure of Congress in the right direction.
Philip Blumel: Right. So we have a glass half full or half empty in the case of Ted Yoho, but I do definitely want to give him credit for fulfilling his pledge. You know, he was a pretty successful business man. He owned veterinarian practices and he ran as a non-politician, spent his time that he said he was going to run and left. And we really need more people like that in Congress. And so I’ll definitely give them credit for that.
Philip Blumel: Hopefully the person that runs for the seat and follows him will take more of an active role in imposing term limits on the whole body. We’ll see.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. You can’t take anything away from a person who wants to set an example of having a citizen legislature, that you’re not supposed to spend a career there, but for term limits to really work, for you to feel the full force and the effectiveness of it.,It really has to be an amendment that applies to everyone across the board.
Philip Blumel: Sure it does. By the way, there were rumors that he was tempted to run for another term in spite of his pledge, and I’m sure that’s true because there’s so much temptation to do that. I mean he was winning by overwhelming margins and he was successful in his fundraising and all the arrows were pointing to being able to run again.
Nick Tomboulides: Well, I think what you’re staring at is a very intense, highly polarized political atmosphere in the country where both parties are so adamant about either maintaining control of a chamber or taking over control of a chamber. And when the parties see a district like Yoho’s that could potentially turn over and become a democratic district, then they start exerting pressure on him to break his pledge and stay in because they know as an incumbent, he’s got an advantage over some newcomer who emerges and tries to win that seat without having a foundation.
Nick Tomboulides: So that’s another problem with this unchecked incumbency. The pressure to stay in office comes not just from your own personal ambitions and your lust for power, but also from your party, from your surrogates, from the political machinery that gets elected. They tell you, “Oh Ted, you’re so important to the Republicans. We might lose our majority if you don’t run again.” It’s pretty hard to say no to that.
Philip Blumel: That’s right. Well, kudos for Yoho for doing so.
Speaker 5: They pout, they cry, they stomp their feet, but mostly they embarrass America. This is politicians behaving like children.
Philip Blumel: Just in case you missed it live, Representative Jerrold Nadler was chairing the house judiciary committee and discussion of impeachment of the president and mixing it up with Representatives Louie Gohmert of Texas, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Mike Johnson of Louisiana and others.
Speaker 6: Gentleman’s time has expired. We will now proceed to the first round of questions.
Speaker 7: Point of order pursuant.
Speaker 6: Gentlemen will state his point of order.
Speaker 7: We’ve been told that counsel for the Democrats was a witness and that’s why he didn’t have to comport with the rules of decorum. And now he’s sitting up here-
Speaker 6: Gentleman will state a point of order.
Speaker 7: I’ve been a judge and I know that you don’t get to be a witness and a judge in the same case. That’s my point of order. He should not be up here.
Speaker 6: It’s not a point of order.
Speaker 7: Chairman.
Speaker 6: Gentleman is not recognized for parliamentary agree.
Speaker 8: Mr. Chairman, what is-
Speaker 6: Gentlemen is not recognized.
Speaker 7: We’re going to ignore the rules and allow witnesses to ask the questions. Then how many other rules are you just going to disregard?
Speaker 6: Gentlemen, we’ll suspend. Gentlemen will refrain from making-
Speaker 7: Well I made a point of order and you won’t rule on it.
Speaker 6: I have not heard a point of order. The gentleman has to state a point.
Speaker 8: Mr. Chairman.
Speaker 6: If gentleman has a point of order, he would state your point of order.
Speaker 8: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
Speaker 7: There is no rule nor precedent for anybody being a witness and then getting to come up and question-
Speaker 6: That is not a point of order.
Speaker 7: And so the point of order is he’s inappropriate to be up here asking questions.
Speaker 6: That is not a point of order. He’s here in accordance with rule six six.
Speaker 7: How much money do you have to give to get to do?
Speaker 6: The gentleman will not cast dispersions on members of staff of the committee.
Philip Blumel: We’re losing another member of Congress, another Republican as well. Duncan Hunter finally decided to call it quits.
Nick Tomboulides: Addition by subtraction.
Philip Blumel: That’s for sure. Now we reported on him many times in the podcast, but I’d never want to miss an opportunity to bring him up yet again because he’s certainly proves a lot of our points. He could have been reelected till the end of time if he hadn’t been indicted on multiple counts of basically stealing. Actually there were 60 criminal counts that he was initially charged with. Do you realize that?
Philip Blumel: He was accused of spending about $250,000 in campaign funds on things like family vacations to Italy and Hawaii and private school tuition for their kids. And of course as you mentioned several times airline tickets for their family’s pet rabbit. Anyway, Duncan Hunter has pleaded guilty on one or two of these charges and he’s out of here.
Nick Tomboulides: Well look, good riddance to bad rubbish. Up to this point he was really embroiled in the criminal law element of it, this multi-year investigation and indictment charges. But now even Congress is saying he done messed up. All right. The office of congressional ethics, which is the greatest oxymoron, it’s apparently where they store your ethics while you’re in Congress. They released a 50-page report, 50-page report, showing a consistent practice of misuse of campaign funds by Hunter and his family. We’ve gone through this before ad nauseum.
Nick Tomboulides: 9,200 on an Italian vacation, 7,000 on Hawaii, 2,900 Arizona and then 3000 to go to a wedding in Idaho. And lest we forget $600 in campaign funds to fly a pet rabbit around the country. Look, I’m sorry, Mr. Fuzzy Feet. I didn’t mean to drag you into this. Who’s the cutest rabbit? You are, yes, you are. Anyway, you’ve got to read the report. It’s a bombshell and he was reelected despite being under indictment. That tells you something about the power of incumbency. Now he’s starting a new term in prison. Sentencing is March 17th. Let’s hope they throw the book at him.
Philip Blumel: Well, I got another little tidbit about this that may have passed a lot of people’s notice is that he said he’s going to quit after the holidays, just after the first of the year. Do you know why? I mean, why wouldn’t you do it right now? Because he gets paid one more time if he waits til after January 1st. He receives his next paycheck. That’s why.
Nick Tomboulides: Oh my God.
Philip Blumel: And his excuse is, “Well, you know, my family’s in financial disarray right now,” despite all the money they’ve stolen.
Nick Tomboulides: Look, airborne rabbits don’t pay for themselves, Phil.
Philip Blumel: Well that’s true, right?
Nick Tomboulides: Can you really blame the guy?
Philip Blumel: He should throw himself on the mercy of the court with that excuse.
Nick Tomboulides: But you know it’s bad when even Congress is saying that you screwed up, like, come on. The bar there is pretty low.
Philip Blumel: Yep. Nick, I’ve taken a little bit of flack because I keep bringing up Tom Steyer on these podcasts. You know, he’s running for president. We call ourselves the sanctuary from partisan politics and all that stuff. And yet I keep bringing up this Democrat running for president as if I’m dye in the wool supporter. And I’m going to do it again today.
Philip Blumel: But before I do that, I want to point out that I’m not necessarily a dye in the wool supporter, that Tom Steyer simply deserves mention on our podcast over and over again because he keeps on coming out in favor of term limits. I was just last night watching Perry Mason, fine program, and a commercial comes on of Tom Steyer talking about, guess what? Term limits, right in middle of the screen in big letters it says term limits and there he is, talk about how he’s going to change the structure of governing in Washington, DC.
Tom Steyer: Donald Trump is just one guy. It takes an entire village of politicians to rig the system. That’s why we need term limits to make Washington work for you. Speaking of term limits, I have six words for you, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer. When you’re in charge, we can finally deliver healthcare, education, clean air and water and wages you can live on. That’s the truth. Now we need action. I’m Tom Steyer and I approve this message.
Nick Tomboulides: This is the new op-ed. It’s in Newsweek.
Philip Blumel: Right? This is the big news this week about Tom Steyer. Not the ad because that’s been running for a while and we’ve mentioned that, but this op-ed in Newsweek. That’s big news.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. It’s titled “Want to Break the Corporate Stranglehold on Washington? Start with Term Limits.” He cites Nevada in creating the first majority female legislature in American history, state legislature. He talks about how without term limits, members spend too much fundraising and worrying about how special interests will react to their policies. And that is a huge thing. We’ve seen the data on this. The average member of Congress spends five hours a day on the phone begging for money, so they’re not reading the bills. Their attention is totally diverted from the real responsibilities at hand, and as a result, they’re deferring a lot of their job to the bureaucracy, to the staff, to the lobbyist.
Nick Tomboulides: They have to fill that vacuum because the members spend 70% of their time fundraising. He also crushes the myth that lobbyists favor term limits.
Philip Blumel: Oh yes.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. Whether you like Tom Steyer or you don’t, I think this is worth checking out.
Philip Blumel: It used to be, Oh, we already have term limits. They’re called elections. Well, that’s been pretty much well debunked and I think people roll their eyes when they hear it nowadays. So what the career politicians are running with now is that term limits actually empower lobbyists. Well, lobbyists don’t know that. They hate term limits and they oppose them at every turn.
Philip Blumel: But Tom Steyer knows that and here’s what he said in this Newsweek op-ed. He said, “That’s just not true. First, lobbyists already have outsized power. We have to recognize that and with seemingly lifetime appointments, that power is not based only on aptitude on the issues. It’s based on personal relationships. With term limits, lobbyists must now make their arguments on the strength of the merits rather than just the relationships alone. Legislators internally, this states, are more likely to distrust lobbyists than their non-term limited peers and more skeptical of lobbyists than politicians who have been in office for term after term after term.”
Philip Blumel: I mean that’s well put and that’s pretty powerful from a Democrat running for president of the United States.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. It perfectly encapsulates why right now in Michigan, a corrupt cabal of lobbyists is working very, very hard to try to repeal term limits because they see term limits in Michigan as a threat to their power.
Scott Tillman: Hi, this is Scott Tillman, the national field director with US Term Limits. US Term Limits is working hard to get candidates committed to congressional term limits. Filing deadlines have passed in just five states: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, California, and Texas. We already have over 125 non-incumbent candidates for Congress who have signed our pledge. The pledge reads, “I pledge that as a member of Congress, I will co-sponsor and vote for the US Term Limits amendment of three house terms and two Senate terms and no longer limit.”
Scott Tillman: If you have access to a candidate, please ask them to sign our pledge. Pledges are available at termlimits.com.
Nick Tomboulides: A legislature should truly be representative of the people. For example, 70% of Congress should not be professional lawyers and professional politicians. It should reflect the composition of society at large. Just like we have 25% of women serving in Congress, even though women are 50% of the population. It means that they’re underrepresented. It means that we’re failing to really meet that benchmark that John Adams laid out of the legislature looking like the people in miniature, sharing their goals, their dreams, their passion, really reflecting the citizenry instead of being a ruling class.
Nick Tomboulides: But everywhere you have term limits, you move in a step in the right direction, you get a lot closer to making our representatives representative.
Philip Blumel: Right. It’ll be interesting when billionaire Tom Steyer faces billionaire Michael Bloomberg at a future Democratic presidential debate when both of these gentlemen have a history of term limits both on opposite sides and I’m looking forward to see if that comes out. Really, I should end on the note that we’re not endorsing Tom Steyer for president of the United States. Okay. Tom Steyer is endorsing us, meaning he’s endorsing term limits and for that he deserves credit end recognition on our program.
Nick Tomboulides: Yes. Just like we’ve given Donald Trump similar recognition anytime he talks about term limits and boy would now not be a fine time to start talking about it again if you’re Donald Trump.
Philip Blumel: And by the way, let me say something about that is that Donald Trump, when he did mention it, we gave him lots of credit. We have been trying to encourage him from all channels that we have available to us to try to get him to talk about it more and he isn’t. Tom Steyer, every new week he comes out with something new on the subject. So again, if Trump was trumpeting term limits right now, we’d be trumpeting Trump’s trumpeting, if you know what I mean.
Nick Tomboulides: Quick little comment, and I’ll just add this in, 48% of Americans want to impeach the president. 82% of Americans want term limits on Congress. Only one of those two issues is being debated by Congress right now. Why do you think that is?
Philip Blumel: Thanks for listening to another episode of No Uncertain Terms. Term limits for all members of Congress is no longer a question because the term limits movement is happening and it always, always wins with the voters. Do you want to be a part of it? Start by spreading the word. Share this podcast with a friend of any political persuasion. Everyone is for term limits.
Philip Blumel: Subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts or simply listen to it on our website at termlimits.com. And while you’re there, sign the petition and check out the current actions tab where you will find direct ways to take action in your state. We’ll be back next week.
Speaker 2: The revolution isn’t being televised. Fortunately you have the No Uncertain Terms podcast.
Speaker 11: Yes. USTL.
Philip Blumel: Al right, so go Stey Dog. Right on.
Nick Tomboulides: That’s partisan. We got to edit that out.
Philip Blumel: Okay. All right. Yeah, you’re right. Let’s get rid of that.
Nick Tomboulides: How about through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Stey Dog, all power and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Philip Blumel: That might be considered partisan. Let’s edit that out.