Philip Blumel: Will the next President of the United States be a term limits Advocate? Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the term limits Movement. This is episode 226, published on November 20th, 2023. With states putting pressure on the Congress by passing the term limits Convention Resolution, with 135 members of Congress signing the US term limits Pledge in support of a constitutional amendment, with recent hearings and a committee vote on a term limits Amendment this year in the US House, and a new Pew poll showing the highest level of support for term limits ever recorded, 87% in a national poll, wouldn’t it be great to have the additional pressure placed on Congress from the White House? It could happen. Two more presidential candidates have injected Congressional term limits as an issue into the presidential race. First, last week, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed the US term limits Presidential Pledge. The pledge reads, I, as a candidate for President of the United States, pledge to support Congressional passage and state ratification of an amendment to the US Constitution that would set term limits on service in the United Senate and the US House, as there are term limits on the President as enacted by the 22nd amendment. In signing, Burgum joins previous signers, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, and Vivek Ramaswamy, in this race.
Philip Blumel: Also, US Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who is running for the Democratic nomination against President Joe Biden, has been taking his longstanding support for Congressional term limits into the presidential race. Let’s hear him talk to reporters on two occasions last week, courtesy of Forbes Breaking News.
Dean Phillips: When I entered Congress, I was one of the class of 2018 that felt it was time for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move on. She and her leadership team, three members in the leadership team, good people, have been in their positions for 20 years. And what happens when you’re in positions for 20 years? You preclude an entire generation of Americans from participating. That’s why I believe in term limits. Yes, I’m a Democrat who believes in term limits because it opens places and spaces for the next generation, and it encourages and promotes elected officials to be principled. And as for generational change, we have some of the oldest generations serving in our Congress right now. We’ve had a death this year. We had one on the Supreme Court. The tragedies of some of these things, both human, are deeply affecting to our democracy.
Dean Phillips: There’s nothing that the president can do about his age. He’s a human being and a good one. I believe in term limits. I believe change is good. I believe Congress is filled with way too many people who spend all their time protecting their seat instead of protecting all of us. And I think we need change, and I’ve got to walk that talk, and I plan to. I promise you. I promise. I think the maximum service in Congress and in the Supreme Court should be 18 years.
Philip Blumel: Of course, both Burgum and Phillips are considered long, long shots to win their respective primaries. But you never know. You know, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden appear to be solidly in the lead for the nominations. But both are wild cards, you know, with serious age and legal issues. It’s encouraging to know that nearly every other candidate on their heels is willing to carry the term limits banner. Next, Holly Robichaud collected quite a bit of good news for her latest episode of Breaking News on term limits, starting with the 135th congressional pledge signer being elected to the US House. Take it away, Holly.
Holly Robichaud: Congress has scored another supporter of term limits in the US House of Representatives. Representative-elect Gabe Amo, a Democrat and former senior advisor to the Biden administration, emerged victorious in Rhode Island’s first congressional district special election on November 7th. US term limits now has 135 pledge signers. 135 from both sides of the aisle currently in Congress. Hi, I’m Holly Robichaud, and this is Breaking News on term limits.
Holly Robichaud: Gabe Amo’s victory in a crowded field created by an open seat is proof that term limits are popular with voters. This past week, an additional seven congressional candidates signed the US term limits pledge. The pledge states, if elected, they will co-sponsor the US term limits amendment. Among those signing was North Carolina Speaker Tim Moore, one of our leading candidates for North Carolina’s 14th district. As Speaker, Moore earned a champion of term limits designation as he led the North Carolina House in passing our bipartisan resolution calling for term limits on Congress. The North Carolina resolution is currently pending before the state Senate, where we have 26 sponsors on the bill. That’s right, 26. That’s more than half the chamber. So the question is, will North Carolina or perhaps Tennessee be the next state to put Congress on notice by passing the term limits convention resolution? We’ll see.
Holly Robichaud: As mentioned at the top of the show, Congress has a new supporter of term limits with Representative-elect Gabe Amo in the House now. He defeated 10 candidates in the primary and won the general election. Amo signed the term limits pledge back in June and is the first elected House member from Rhode Island to have promise to support term limits. To thank Amo for his commitment, US term limits has sponsored billboards in his district. We’re really pleased he got elected. Our US term limits pledge program doesn’t require a self-limit on individuals. That wouldn’t get to the root of the problem, which is career politicians. Our goal is to limit the terms of all members of Congress as an institution, and put the seniority system to rest. That can’t happen if only Term Limit supporters step down. The term limits movement is not about any one person, it is necessary electoral reform that must apply to everyone across the board.
Holly Robichaud: 29 state legislative candidates who signed the US term limits pledge, were elected to office in last week’s general election. That’s right, 29. These results show why we are seeing record number of candidates signing US term limits pledge. Did you know that Giving Tuesday is November 28th? Please donate to your favorite charity, termlimits.com/donate. Also, if you need a gift for that term limits supporter in your family, our online store is having a sale at termlimits.com/shop.
Philip Blumel: Thank you, Holly. You can subscribe to Holly’s YouTube video show by going to youtube.com/ustermlimits. Now in that clip, Holly wonders whether the seventh state to pass the term limits convention would be Tennessee or North Carolina. Well, Mayor Glenn Jacobs of Knox County, Tennessee, is working overtime to make sure it’s his state that wins this race. The county mayor has been crisscrossing Tennessee, speaking with legislators and also to civic organizations to mobilize support for a likely Tennessee Senate vote early next year. The term limits convention has already passed the House in Tennessee. That victory will carry over into 2024. So if the Senate concurs next year, Tennessee will become the seventh US state to officially call for an amendment writing convention limited to the subject of term limits. Jacobs also made his case in the November 16th edition of the Knoxville News Sentinel. After lamenting the small likelihood Congress will act on its own initiative, Jacobs wrote, quote, “If Congress is going to sit on its hands, what could be done? One way forward is for the states to address the issue. But how? The answer is by calling for a limited constitutional convention to adopt a congressional term limits amendment. When enough states request a convention to add a term limits amendment to the Constitution, Congress is bypassed, and the amendment can be proposed by the states for ratification.”
Philip Blumel: Six states, Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and West Virginia, have called for a limited convention to propose a congressional term limits amendment to the Constitution. Tennessee, could be next. In the Tennessee General Assembly, House Joint Resolution 5 would have Tennessee join the call. The measure overwhelmingly passed the State House earlier this year, with Representative Chris Todd as sponsor. State Senator Richard Briggs of Knoxville recently announced that he will serve as the state sponsor of House Joint Resolution 5. If passed, Tennessee will go on record calling for an amendment convention to discuss and if agreed upon, adopt an amendment to set congressional term limits that would then need to be approved by three-fourths of the states. With overwhelming support amongst voters, congressional term limits will become a reality. Members of Congress will then be confronted with a dilemma. Do the right thing and propose their own term limits, or sit idly by and watch the states do it for them. Oh-ho. Thank you, Glenn.
Philip Blumel: He wasn’t the only Tennessee pole putting the pressure on. Representative Rick Eldridge and Representative Elaine Davis also both published op-eds this week in different Tennessee publications. Both of these legislators are pledge signers who voted yes earlier this year when the TLC, the term limits convention, passed the House. In Jacob’s editorial, he mentioned that Senator Richard Briggs, chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, has agreed to pick up the HJR 5 as lead sponsor in the Senate in January when they reconvene. And yes, that is the committee where the TLC is expected to get a hearing and vote. Things are looking good.
Philip Blumel: I love it how Glenn, Eldridge and Davis are using their political platforms to push the term limits issue. You can do this too. Now, you might not be a legislator or a mayor, but if you’re involved in politics in a target state, such as Tennessee or North Carolina or say, Kentucky, there is something very helpful that you can organize. It isn’t that hard, and it really lights a fire under your state’s legislators. That is this. Get your local Democratic or Republican county committee to pass a resolution urging your state legislature to vote to pass the term limits convention. What brings this to mind is that a group of term limits supporters in Trigg County, Kentucky, did just that recently.
Philip Blumel: In Cadiz, Kentucky, I’m reading their press release, on November 9th, 2023, the Trigg County Republican Committee passed a resolution calling on the Kentucky legislature to pass an Article 5 application to propose a term limits amendment to the US Constitution to limit the number of terms members of the US House and Senate can serve. What a coup. Now, you can bet that Rachel McCubbin, she’s the Kentucky state chair for US term limits, will be waving this document around in Frankfort. The county delegation of legislators from Trigg County are certainly on notice. And if other counties follow suit, well, they just lit a grassroots wildfire. We used this strategy to great effect getting the term limits convention passed in Florida a few years ago. For assistance on how to do this, contact us at termlimits.com.
Speaker 4: This is a public service announcement.
Philip Blumel: Bradley Tusk is the CEO of Tusk Venture Partners, a company that invests in early stage tech startups in heavily regulated markets. He’s also the author of a new book satirizing government and politics titled Obvious in Hindsight. Here’s Tusk on CNBC’s Squawk Box on November 8th, talking about the perverse incentives of politics with Squawk Box host Becky Quick, who provided an answer.
Becky Quick: Your satirical book, and by the way, you come at this not only from VC, but also from this time in government, where you are looking at both sides of this, talks about flying cars and the race to get flying cars out there, and the evil CEO and her evil consultants, political consultants who are trying to make this happen, and maybe a little bit of a bumbling government trying to deal with it on the other side.
Bradley Tusk: Totally. It’s about a campaign to legalize flying cars in New York, LA and Austin. And on one side, like you said, is Flight Deck, the flying car startup and their vicious political consultants. And on the other side is Uber, who now doesn’t want competition, the Audubon Society, the socialists, the transit unions, and the Russian mob. And the book’s a little absurdist, but it tries to show how these things really get done.
Becky Quick: You understand this because you were one of the evil political consultants for Uber with trying to get all this stuff out there.
Bradley Tusk: For sure. Yeah, yeah. I still do that for my fund all the time.
Becky Quick: So what is the downside? You’re living in this world, and you think these companies are manipulating? Like, how do we draw real life experiences out of this?
Bradley Tusk: I think what everyone on all sides needs to understand, and what I’m hoping to get across to the readers is, politics in many ways is pretty simple, which is every policy output is the result of a political input. Every politician makes every decision solely based on reelection and nothing else. And if you could understand what’s going to impact their next election, and if they believe that you have the ability to impact it, they will work with you. And if they think that you have no impact, you’re irrelevant. And we might want our politicians or our tech CEOs or VCs to be better people, but we’re not going to change human nature. But if we at least understand what motivates their decisions and why, you can do something about it.
Becky Quick: I always kind of thought it was follow the money, and maybe that plays into your theory.
Speaker 7: Well, they want to get reelected so that they can…
Becky Quick: So you need money.
Speaker 7: Get some money.
Becky Quick: Yeah. Or I think even…
Speaker 7: Why do they want to get reelected? To stay in power?
Bradley Tusk: No. Yeah. There’s literally, I would argue, in the 30 years I’ve been working around politics and in politics, most of them have this hole in their psyche. And the only way to fill it, and the only is they need constant validation, constant affirmation, and the best way to get that, especially if you don’t have the ability to do what you guys do or to start a company or whatever else, is you run for office, and then you’re somebody, right? You have a title, you have a car, you have a special license plate.
Speaker 7: You might get a really nice car and maybe some cash in your pockets and some gold bars.
Bradley Tusk: Depending on how aggressive you are, yeah.
Speaker 7: Exactly.
Bradley Tusk: But ultimately, the notion of giving that up for them is so horrific, that’s why they’re never going to put any policy issue, on any side of the aisle or whatever else, ahead of their reelection.
Becky Quick: Ken Langone has said for a long time, and I used to not pay as much attention, I think he may be right. He says, “Term limits is the answer. That’s how you get better people in, because they’re no longer worried about getting reelected.”
Bradley Tusk: Yeah.
Speaker 7: The incentives are all wrong in Washington, DC, which is why the wrong people always run, or turn into the wrong people over time.
Speaker 8: They pout, they cry, they stomp their feet, but mostly they embarrass America. This is Politicians Behaving Like Children.
Philip Blumel: In this Politicians Behaving Badly segment, we feature Senator Mark Wayne Mullin of Oklahoma. Representative Mullin is a US term limits pledge signer who also promised to self-limit himself to six years when he was in the US House. But then, after being elected, he refused to co-sponsor the US term limits amendment, as he promised, and he refused to leave office as well, claiming that he and his wife prayed over the decision, and God led him to break his word. He also famously insulted a crowd of constituents who were upbraiding him for their treachery, saying, “You say you pay me to do this? That’s bullcrap. I pay for myself. I paid enough taxes before I got here and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go.” Well, as a matter of record, he has never refused the $174,000 a year salary that comes with being a member of the US House. But that’s all ancient history. He is now a US Senator from Oklahoma. The following exchange occurred earlier this month in a Senate committee hearing. The voice you’ll hear is Senator Mullin talking to Teamsters President Sean O’Brien.
Markwayne Mullin: Now, let’s talk about Mr. O’Brien himself, his behavior. As everybody knows, in this hearing the last time, him and I kind of had a back and forth. But after you left here, you got pretty excited about the keyboard. In fact, you tweeted at me one, two, three, four, five times. And let me read what the last one said. It said, “Greedy CEO who pretends like he’s self-made. What a clown. Fraud. Always has been, always will be. Quit the tough guy act in these Senate hearings. You know where to find me any place, any time, cowboy.” This is a time, this is a place. If you want to run your mouth, we can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here.
Sean O’Brien: Okay, that’s fine. Perfect.
Markwayne Mullin: You want to do it now?
Sean O’Brien: I’d love to do it right now.
Markwayne Mullin: Well, stand your butt up, then.
Sean O’Brien: You stand your butt up.
Speaker 11: Oh, hold on. Oh, stop it. Is that your solution to every problem? No, no, sit down. Sit down. No, no, you’re a United States senator. Act it. Sit down, please. Hold it. Hold it.
Philip Blumel: Wow. Okay. How about another example? Here, well, one can imagine that former Speaker Representative Kevin McCarthy might be a bit miffed at the eight House members who led the revolt that removed him from his post. But according to Tim Burchett, a US term limits pledge signer, here’s how Representative McCarthy decided to handle it, as recorded by CNN.
Kevin McCarthy: So Congressman, explain to us what happened with you and Kevin McCarthy.
Tim Burchett: Well, I was doing an interview with Claudia from NPR, a lovely lady, and she was asking me a question. And at that time, I got elbowed in the back, and it kind of caught me off guard because it was a clean shot to the kidneys. And I turned back, and there was Kevin. And for a minute, I was kind of, what the heck just happened? And then I, you know, I chased after him. Of course, he’s a, as I’ve stated many times, he’s a bully with $17 million in a security detail. You know, he’s the type of guy that, when you’re a kid, would throw a rock over the fence and run home and hide behind his mama’s skirt. And he just, you know, he, from behind, that kind of stuff, it, you know, that’s not the way we handle things in East Tennessee. We, if we have a problem, with somebody, I’m going to look him in the eye and talk to him. Like I said, if you’ve ever been hit in the kidneys, it’s a little different. You don’t have to hit very hard to cause a little bit of pain… A lot of pain. And he just, of course, as he always did, does, he just denies it or blames somebody else or something, you know. And it was just a little heated, but I just backed off because there wasn’t any, I saw no reason. I wasn’t gaining anything from it. And then everybody saw it, so it didn’t really matter.
Philip Blumel: Wow. You just can’t make this stuff up.
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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.
Philip Blumel: 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 are 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.
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