Nick Tomboulides: Welcome back to No Uncertain Terms, I’m Nick Tomboulides. Just a quick note for our listeners that in the next few weeks, we might be tweaking the format of this show. We don’t know exactly what new direction we’re gonna go in but we can say with confidence that whatever we select, whatever we decide to do will bring the latest and greatest term limits news and content to your podcasting platform. We have the audience’s best interest in mind and we might be retooling it, we might be going with some new segments, so stay tuned for that in the future. For now though, we got a few items to talk about, resolutions. New year’s resolutions are being filed in Congress and the states. It’s a new era for term limits starting at the federal level, very exciting news. The US term limits Amendment has officially been filed in the US House by Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina. It is going to be House Joint Resolution 11, HJR 11. The bill number changes now since we’re in a new session, but this is the term limits bill we need to rally the nation around. It’s three terms in the House, two terms in the Senate, the current members are not grandfathered in and this is a lifetime limit.
Nick Tomboulides: So once you’ve been in for six years, it’s over, time to go home and get a real job, which is great. This is the only bill in Congress that corresponds to the US term limits Pledge signed by 133 incumbent members of Congress, 133 incumbent Congress members. Right now, the Norman legislation is up to 44 cosponsors. We’ve got some interesting names on there, you’ve got people who were pro-McCarthy and people who are anti-McCarthy. You’ve got Jared Golden, a Democrat, you’ve got Joe Wilson, a long-time representative from South Carolina. Hell, you’ve got George Santos cosponsoring the USTL Amendment. Term limits, it’s grown into a big tent and of course, everybody is welcome.
Nick Tomboulides: But be on the lookout, BOLO, because one of the ways that opponents of this issue try to undermine our effort is by filing multiple term limits bills in the new session with different term lengths. We’ve seen it in the past, you see 12-year term limits bills, 16-year Term Limit bills, one guy even had a 30-year term limits bill, I think, was that James Lankford from Oklahoma? And what those people wanna do is they wanna sow doubt, they wanna sow confusion and muddy the water so nobody knows what’s going on and that makes it harder to rally and coalesce around a single bill. But you have to remember, term limits, it has to be a constitutional amendment, the Supreme Court told us that. It has to be a constitutional amendment, it has to be proposed by either two-thirds of Congress or by an amendment convention so it’s not like the First Amendment.
Nick Tomboulides: With the First Amendment, the ones who wrote it, they said, “Everybody gets speech, everyone gets press, everyone gets freedom of religion.” When they wrote it, they never needed to decide how much speech you got, they didn’t need to put a number on it, they didn’t need a quantity, they didn’t need to decide how much religion you were allowed to practice, they just had to sign off on the concept, they said, “Freedom of religion, great.” It was an easy amendment to write in retrospect. Term limits is different, we can’t just sign off on the concept. A lot of people who are not as into the weeds on this issue, they think you can just sign off on the concept… Yeah, everyone agrees on term limits, it’s great, but there’s a little sub-discussion under that of what are the term limits going to be? You can’t write and debate and pass an amendment without building a consensus around a specific bill. That is what our organization is working to do and that is what Congressman Ralph Norman has done and intended with House Joint Resolution 11, three terms in the House.
Nick Tomboulides: Why is that? Well, it’s because polling shows us that 70% of the American people believe that the term limit in the House should be six years or fewer. Three terms of two years, six years, that’s plenty of time to get the job done and then go back to live under the laws that you’ve made. The House was supposed to be rough and tumble, it was supposed to be more democratic, it was supposed to have more turnover, that’s why the term is two years in the first place. As for the Senate, it was supposed to be more deliberative, it’s the more senior body, it’s based off the the House of Lords in England, that the Senate can be a little bit more independent. It’s got a six-year term, so two six-year terms is pretty fair. That is the closest approximation of the time tested all-American term limit of eight years that we see for 36 governors and for a majority of state legislatures. So I just wanted to give you a little bit of background on that. The federal amendment has been filed by Ralph Norman, 44 cosponsors, we’re still adding more every day, so check back with us. We expect that resolution is gonna get a vote this year, that’s what Kevin McCarthy has promised but we can’t take our foot off the gas. We can’t stop barnstorming, we can’t stop contacting our legislators, we’ve gotta get the word out there. Go to termlimits.com/takeaction to send a message to your Congress member and to leadership.
Philip Blumel: Reporting on the 95% re-election of incumbents running for their own seat in the house, CBS News Boston ran a segment of Question Everything that explored the possibility of enacting term limits to solve the problem. Holly Robichaud represented US term limits on the program, noting that incumbent advantage is overwhelming and term limits would level the playing field.
Speaker 3: Incumbents always do well, they’ve got huge advantages which can lead to careers that last decades. For example, of the 435 members of The House of Representatives, about 95% of incumbents won. In tonight’s Question Everything, one of our viewers, Chris K. Asked, “It’s self-serving for politicians to not talk about term limits, but why can’t it be a discussion?” David Wade went looking for answers.
David Wade: This is not your grandfather’s Congress, or is it? Right now, we have the oldest Congress in history. The average age is 59, that’s 20 years older than the average American. But this is not a story about age, it’s a story about power.
Prof. Thomas Whalen: Power corrupts.
David Wade: BU Professor Thomas Whalen is a presidential historian and author. He says debate over term limits started with our forefathers. The Constitution did not call for term limits thanks in part to Founding Father James Madison.
Prof. Thomas Whalen: James Madison argued fairly articulately that he said, “Well, wouldn’t we be depriving ourselves of all these leaders’ experience that they’ve acquired in serving their nation?” So that argument seemed to carry the day.
David Wade: A win for experience. But how much is too much? Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has been in Congress 47 years, Senator Ed Markey, 45 years, Chuck Schumer, 41 years, Senator Mitch McConnell, 37 years, which would all be fine if the system is working, but is it? At the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown, we met people who are hungry for change, like Dave Malosi. Do you think the system right now is working?
Dave Malosi: No. [laughter] I don’t know if anyone would say yes to that question.
David Wade: Megan, Elizabeth and Heidi told me they fully support term limits.
Speaker 7: The system doesn’t work, something needs to be done. So term limits is that first step, then term limits is that first step but this is… You’re not supposed to make a career out of it.
Speaker 8: It’s even more important at the Senate level because they’re there six years.
David Wade: I reached out to every member of the Massachusetts delegation about term limits and four responded. Senator Warren said she doesn’t believe in term limits. Senator Markey said, “There are term limits, they’re called elections.” Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said, “No to arbitrary term limits but yes to real campaign finance reform.” Congressman James McGovern said, “Voters should be the one to decide how long elected officials serve.”
Speaker 9: Obviously, none of them believe in term limits.
Speaker 10: Shocker.
Speaker 4: According to a recent poll, 80% of Americans want Congress to have term limits, 80%.
Holly Robichaud: And this is actually one of those issues where Republicans and Democrats and Independents all agree on it, that there should be term limits.
David Wade: Holly Robichaud works with US Term Limits. The organization has worked for years for term limits amendment. Holly says things have changed since our Founding Fathers wrote The Constitution.
Holly Robichaud: Well, they did envision what the campaign system has become. 90% of the money from PACs and lobbyists go to incumbents. It makes it almost impossible for a challenger to win. So by implementing term limits, you’re creating a level playing field for people to go out there and get elected.
Nick Tomboulides: Okay, state resolutions. So in addition to our new year’s resolution in Congress, we’ve also got the new year’s state resolutions. Of course, we’re launching the term limits Convention Bills this session and as of this podcast, the term limits Convention has been introduced in eight states, South Dakota, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Arizona, Oklahoma, Indiana and Connecticut. The states are at different stages in the process. So for example, Arizona and Tennessee we’ve seen success before. Both of them passed the term limits resolution in the State House last year but not the State Senate. Senates are typically a bit harder because the senators have been in The Capitol longer. They’ve absorbed more of that culture and they are a bit more aloof and frankly, they tend to be more out of sync with their constituents, what their constituents want.
Nick Tomboulides: But we are coming off an election year, none of these legislatures look identical to how they looked last year, so we shall see, I’m optimistic, cautiously optimistic. Take Arizona, we debuted there with a Bipartisan House bill, three Republicans on it, two Democrats including a new Democrat, Keith Seaman, who just won a very hard-fought race. We have a great team on the ground in Arizona, great team, bipartisan co-chairs of the congressional term limits effort, two former state senators, Senator Kelly Townsend, a Republican, Senator Diego Rodriguez, a Democrat. They’re working together because this has never been a left or a right issue, it’s an American issue.
Nick Tomboulides: Tennessee, that’s been a hot spot as well. We’ve passed the House now, first time we passed the House last year. We’ve got a great sponsor, Chris Todd. We think the votes are there if the bill reaches the floor, but it has to get past the goalkeeper and that in Tennessee is the Senate Judiciary Committee. That’s why we’ve got a team, Glenn Jacobs, our Tennessee State Chair, the Mayor of Knox County, we’ve had him on the show. He’s doing everything he can, he’s doing everything short of suplexing and choke slamming the opposition out there. Those are the states that have filed, those are the states that I’m most excited about right now but more will be filing soon. We are anticipating action in Ohio, Utah, Maine, Montana, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and more. If you live in any of those states, you can take action, termlimits.com/takeaction. Send a heartfelt note to your representative, demand they support these bills, it is the only way that we’re going to get term limits on Congress. We have to put pressure on Congress to act, we need more and more states to sign up every year. It’s the only way we’re gonna end the corruption, we gotta get rotation in office and we gotta restore the citizen-led government, the citizen legislature as our framers intended.
Nick Tomboulides: I wanna talk a little bit about North Dakota. We have clearly triggered the politicians in North Dakota and let me tell you what I’m talking about. This is the bonafide insanity of the North Dakota State Legislature. If you recall, last year, a group of people from North Dakota approached us. They said, “We don’t like our legislature, it doesn’t listen, it’s in bed with the lobbyists and the special interests. We’ve got people here, here in North Dakota elected who’ve been serving since the Reagan Administration. Can you help? Can you help us get these dinosaurs out, can you help us get term limits for the legislature?” And we of course said yes, that is what we do. So US term limits, we chipped in, we provided advice, expertise, we provided financial assistance, we helped this group get off the ground, we helped them collect 40,000 or so signatures to get eight-year term limits for their legislature onto the ballot. But, not before the prehistoric Secretary of State, a guy named Al Jaeger who… Frankly he is like a personal man servant for the legislature. He waved a magic wand, he abused his power and he disqualified tens of thousands of signatures without having real evidence that they were illegitimate.
Nick Tomboulides: And of course, the Attorney General teamed up with him. They even threatened the people who helped get term limits on the ballot, they threatened some of the term limits activists with criminal prosecution if they didn’t just disappear and close down the initiative. They even fabricated a narrative that these petitions weren’t legitimate. And then in a 5-0 unanimous decision by the North Dakota State Supreme Court, the court said, “Your arguments are bogus, you politicians are not following the law and term limits is staying on the ballot.” It stayed on the ballot as a result of that court holding and it passed in a landslide, eight-year term limits for the North Dakota Legislature and Governor. Now what’s happening? Well, we’ve clearly struck a nerve because the North Dakota Legislature has filed multiple bills to try to ensure nothing like term limits can ever happen again. They have started a personal jihad against anyone who might dare pass an initiative that threatens their power, threatens their sinecures, threatens the disease of careerism which has apparently consumed The Capitol. The first bill, HB 1452, a Foreign Influence Tax. North Dakota politicians want to put a 90% tax on all contributions from a non-resident to support an initiated measure in the state.
Nick Tomboulides: What that means is, if US term limits wanted to send a term limits campaign in North Dakota, $100, as we tend to do and we’ve done for years because we support term limits all over the country, the state would confiscate 90 of those dollars. A 90% tax on an outside group helping to fund an in-state initiative. Now remember, our issue is term limits but this law would affect anyone who wanted to fund an in-state initiative. So if there were a ballot initiative in North Dakota to create a trust fund to help the homeless and Habitat for Humanity wanted to contribute to help make that a reality, the state would take 90% of it. If the American Heart Association wanted to contribute to a healthcare initiative, the state would take 90% of it. Complete insanity. I’ve never heard of anything like it before. It may not be constitutional and frankly, we should probably be sending psychiatrists by the busload into the North Dakota Capitol right now because I don’t know how they dreamt up something like this.
Nick Tomboulides: The next bill, HB 2192. This is a legislative management study, they’re going to spend tax payer dollars to study the impact of term limits on the legislature but term limits don’t even take effect for eight years. So how the hell are you bozos going to study it? The legislature is going to squander tax payer dollars to study a policy that hasn’t even been implemented. Again, we need buses and buses of shrinks, send them to North Dakota right now, paging Dr. Phil.
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Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. The Term Limits Convention bills are moving through the state legislatures, this could be a breakthrough year for the term limits movement. To check on the status of the term limits Convention Resolution in your state, go to termlimits.com/takeaction. There, you will see if it has been introduced and where it stands in the committee process on its way to the floor vote. If there’s action to take, you’ll see a Take Action button by your state, click it. This will give you the opportunity to send a message to the most relevant legislators urging them to support the legislation, they have to know you’re watching. That’s termlimits.com/takeaction. If your state has already passed the term limits Convention Resolution or the bill’s not been introduced in your state, you can still help. Please consider making a contribution to US term limits. It is our aim to hit the reset button on the US Congress and you can help. Go to termlimits.com/donate, termlimits.com/donate. Thanks, we’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: Contact your state lawmakers before they vote on term limits for Congress. Go to termlimits.com/takeaction.