LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We need term limits in Congress

After watching the circus that took place in Washington over the budget, I am convinced more than ever that we need term limits.

Congress passed a bill containing 600 pages that I am convinced no one who voted for its passage really knows what it says. Think about it. It was published at midnight, and voted on around 4 a.m.

I know what’s being touted, funding for the military. But don’t let that ruse fool you, the military was used as a pawn, similar in fashion to the hoax about Dreamers, to advance the political agenda of both sides. It’s not about the betterment of our country or even the military. It’s about our elite politicians who for decades have done nothing but spend our money like tomorrow will never matter.

As a retired Army colonel I applaud the lifting of sequestration. However, that strangulation of the military and the supporting budget caps were feeble attempts by Congress to say to the American public, see, we can be fiscally responsible.

Last night, Congress threw out fiscal responsibility and is using the ending of sequestration as its justification. I watched with great sadness as Sens. Schumer and McConnell patted each other on the back and touted the wonderful agreement they made to save our military. Never mind what’s in the fine print of the law. Those two were part of putting sequestration and the budget caps into effect!

The budget law passed is estimated to add an additional $1 trillion to our national debt. Given that the fiscal 2018 budget was slated to add about a half of trillion, by the end of 2019, our national debt (a tax for our future generations) will approach $22 trillion. There are many who say the debt will never be a real concern, but just think about the following.

The budget is essentially comprised of three components — entitlements, debt service and discretionary spending. Entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc) eat about 68 percent of the budget and are growing rapidly. Medicare was never really funded so it requires a lot of money from the general fund. Social Security is about 18 years from insolvency.

To thwart that insolvency (created when our fiscally responsible lawmakers raided the surplus funds American workers had put into the system) Congress will have to either raise taxes or increase the age at which you can receive payments.

If you are 45 or less, are either of those options palatable to you? Debt service is the fastest growing segment of the budget. As concerns about inflation increase, we are seeing the interest rate rise on government debt. Not a good sign. Military spending and all other government spending is considered discretionary, with over half of discretionary spending going to the military and VA. When you crunch all of the numbers, there isn’t much left for the remainder of the government.

Our politicians will tell you that there is no appetite to tackle entitlements. I find that fascinating as many of our entrenched politicians believe the way for “middle Americans” to get ahead is through help from government-entitlement programs.

While I believe that many of those programs are needed, the question that is never asked is, at what cost? If you listened very closely to Sen. Schumer as he touted this bill, he was downright insulting to the middle class. I got the feeling from listening to him that he knows what’s best for me. And for me to succeed, I need his handouts.

The sad part of this whole process is that it will play out again. So, what was accomplished? Our elite politicians, on both sides of the aisle, managed to bust the budget caps, add over a trillion to the deficit, and God only knows what else is buried in those 600 pages, all in the name of funding the military.

They effectively threw the baby out with the bath water. Unfortunately, there are people who believe that the only solution to getting rid of the bad bath water was tossing the baby with it. We have been duped once again by our slick-talking, glad-handing politicians who have managed to advance their true strategy, get re-elected, regardless of party, keep the fun and games going on in Washington, continue their six-figure salaries subsidized medical insurance, and generous retirement program.

Unless we, the voters, push for term limits, then the current leaders of Congress, depending on the 2018 midterms, will just switch seats, and nothing will change.

Frank Daniels
Colonel (Ret), USAR

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