‘Case of the Week’ 5 (NCFCA): Term Limits

Important Disclaimer: We pretty much just throw these together over the weekend, and don’t put a lot of work into them. Case of the Week cases are not subject to the same editorial process and stringent quality standards as the COG 2013 sourcebook, and are frequently contributed by non-COG authors. You may find material and sources in these cases that would not appear in the sourcebook. That said, we hope these cases will be useful to you; enjoy!

Uploader’s Note: Actually, once again, you might have to scratch the “don’t put a lot of work into them” – this one has a pretty substantial bonus Negative brief at the end. (Many thanks to R.J.!)

About the Author: R.J. Martin is the 2013 NCFCA Extemp National Champion and an accomplished Team Policy debater. His career has included a 6-0 record and top seed at the Alabama Open, top 5 finishes in all but two career Team Policy tournaments, and an overall win rate of 75%. (Yes, he’s done the math.)

1AC: Born to Run Federal Term Limits

By R.J. Martin

“Always, I have done everything out of love. For the love of the people I became President, you made me President. I have ruled these years out of love. There is a lot left to do. I need more time. I need your vote. Your vote for love.”

– Hugo Chavez, a socialist who abolished term limits so he could… feel more love?

George Mason, one of America’s Founding Fathers, once stated, “Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens.”

The Founders created our country to be different from the British aristocracy and hereditary monarchy. American government hinged on the idea that politicians would come from normal walks of life and quickly return to the people as private citizens after only a term or two in office. Instead, today career politicians spend decades in Washington, are far removed from the average citizen, and funnel federal money to their district in order to secure perpetual re-election.

This is why the affirmative stands Resolved: That federal election law should be significantly reformed in the United States.

Election Law: The standards establishing who votes, when and how they vote, and/or for whom they may vote.

The affirmative position is simple: Career politicians should be stopped by implementing term limits. Unfortunately, the current system permits unlimited re-election to Congress. This is a problem because…

Harm 1: Incumbents are nearly unbeatable

Professor Kenneth Mayer (Ph.D. from Yale University in Political Science. He currently teaches Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), Assistant Professor Timothy Werner (Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His is currently an assistant professor of Business, Government & Society at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin), and Amanda Williams. January 2006. Published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Political Science. “Do Public Funding Programs Enhance Electoral Competition?” http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1014&context=mayer&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.com%2Fscholar%3Fq%3Delection%2B%252B%2Bpublic%2Bfunds%26btnG%3D%26hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D0%252C1%26as_ylo%3D2000%26as_yhi%3D2013#search=%22election%20%2B%20public%20funds%22

“Incumbent legislators win reelection nearly 100 percent of the time, and many face no opposition at all. In 2004 the House incumbent reelection rate was 99 percent, and only a handful of districts were even remotely competitive. In the states, 93 percent of all state legislators who ran for reelection won, and the major parties have given up on over a third of the legislative seats, contesting only 65 percent of races. In California, every incumbent legislator—in the State Assembly, State Senate, U.S. Congress, and U.S. Senate—won in 2004.”

Competition is key to any thriving democracy. The absence of term limits reduces the democratic process to a mere rubber stamp for 99% of Representatives. There are 2 impacts to this harm:

Impact 1: The Longer in Office, the Bigger the Spender

Patrick Basham, (Ph.D. in Political Economy from Cambridge University. He is currently the Director of the Democracy Institute and an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the New York Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times; he has appeared in the flesh on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, PBS, NPR, and the BBC). After May 2011. NOTE: Specific publication date not listed. Published by Our Generation. “Term Limits: A Reform That Works.” http://ourgeneration.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/term-limits.pdf

“Studies show that the longer an individual stays in office, the greater the support for increased government spending. Consequently, limiting terms may lead to limited government, or at least a smaller government than would have existed in their absence, as senior state legislators are more likely to vote for higher taxes and higher spending than are their junior colleagues.”

We’re broke. The nation can’t afford more reckless spending. And you probably can’t afford higher taxes. But that’s what you get when Congressmen remain in office for decades on end.

Impact 2: O’Keefe: Representatives Become Unrepresentative

Eric O’Keefe, (CEO of the Sam Adams Alliance and the Sam Adams Foundation). Note: No publication date. Published by Americans for Congressional Term Limits Now. Our Beliefs: Why Congress Needs Reform Now. http://actnowus.org/our%20beliefs.html

“The problem, quite simply, is that our representatives are no longer representative of the people. They are a separate ruling class, identifying their interests with those of the government, not the people. When the interests of the government in which they serve and the people they putatively serve conflict… they invariably side with the government.”

When career politicians are virtually assured of re-election, they have no incentive to serve the people. So instead, they serve themselves and the federal government. However, the affirmative advocates re-instating accountability in Washington, through the following:

Plan

Mandate: No one may serve in an elected federal office for more than 14 years. Individuals may not run for any federal office whose full term length would put them beyond 14 years of service.

Timeline: This plan will be phased in beginning with the 2014 elections. Current legislators will not be affected.

Agency: The US Federal Government, Congress, and any other necessary means.

In other words, the affirmative will mandate that no one may be elected to the federal government for more than 14 years. A decade and a half is long enough for anyone to spend in Washington. Of course, the affirmative reserves the right to further clarify this plan as needed in future speeches. There are 3 main advantages of passing the affirmative plan.

Advantage 1: Fresh Faces

Jennifer Drage Bowser, (Project Manager for the Joint Team on Term Limits at the National Conference on State Legislatures.) 2003. Published by The Council of State Governments. “The Effects of Legislative Term Limits.” http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/drupal/system/files/2003_bowser.pdf

“The most obvious positive effect of term limits has been to sweep out ineffective, long-serving incumbent legislators, and open the doors for fresh faces and new ideas. Under the circumstances, these new members have to learn faster and work harder than their predecessors did in order to accomplish their legislative agenda in limited time. Freshmen legislators in term-limited legislatures are more involved in the process — introducing bills, serving on or even chairing key committees, and getting involved in the budget process.”

Advantage 2: More Competition

Patrick Basham, (Ph.D. in Political Economy from Cambridge University. He is currently the Director of the Democracy Institute and an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the New York Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times; he has appeared in the flesh on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, PBS, NPR, and the BBC). After May 2011. NOTE: Specific publication date not listed. Published by Our Generation. “Term Limits: A Reform That Works.” http://ourgeneration.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/term-limits.pdf

Unquestionably, term limits have made elections more competitive. More candidates for office and the increased turnover of state legislatures have produced better choices for voters. Term limits have had a much richer effect on state legislative careers than previously understood, as they reduce the benefits of seeking re-election even for state legislators who are eligible to run, and reduce the opportunity cost of running for other offices. By increasing the supply of experienced challengers, term limits increase competition in elections for non-term-limited offices and, consequently, the quality of representation provided by those elected.”

Unfortunately, incumbents perpetually running for re-election are seldom tested and rarely forced to prove their ability as a legislator. Term limits counter-act the Incumbent Advantage, and ensure candidates have to prove their competence.

Link: Competition is key to Legitimacy and Accountability

Professor Kenneth Mayer (Ph.D. from Yale University in Political Science. He currently teaches Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), Assistant Professor Timothy Werner (Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His is currently an assistant professor of Business, Government & Scoiety at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin), and Amanda Williams. January 2006. Published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Political Science. “Do Public Funding Programs Enhance Electoral Competition?” http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1014&context=mayer&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.com%2Fscholar%3Fq%3Delection%2B%252B%2Bpublic%2Bfunds%26btnG%3D%26hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D0%252C1%26as_ylo%3D2000%26as_yhi%3D2013#search=%22election%20%2B%20public%20funds%22

Meaningful political competition is the foundation of democratic legitimacy. The ability to freely choose among realistic alternatives, especially at the ballot box, is a prerequisite to the exercise and protection of most other political rights. To create even a token degree of accountability, elections “must occur in circumstances that involve an appropriate degree of genuine competition.” At some point, a minimum level of competition is essential “for legislatures to be responsive to electoral change.

Advantage 3: Voters Better-Represented

Patrick Basham, (Ph.D. in Political Economy from Cambridge University. He is currently the Director of the Democracy Institute and an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the New York Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times; he has appeared in the flesh on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, PBS, NPR, and the BBC). After May 2011. NOTE: Specific publication date not listed. Published by Our Generation. “Term Limits: A Reform That Works.” http://ourgeneration.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/term-limits.pdf

“Although a 2006 nationwide survey found that term-limited state legislators feel less constrained by their constituencies, more recent research finds no evidence that term limited legislators are any less representative of their constituents than are non-term limited legislators. These results are consistent with the so-called “sorting model,” found in economics literature, in which elections are reasonably efficient at selecting leaders whose preferences align with those of their districts. In fact, term limits – or even the mere threat of term limits – increases the responsiveness of politicians’ policy platforms. Even in cases in which term limits do not produce much partisan change, they are likely to produce legislators who are closer to the median voters in their districts than in situations in which term limits do not apply.”

Politicians who face term limits have more competition. And more competition means that politicians are held accountable for their actions. Instituting term limits is the answer for stopping the vicious cycle of career politicians using their position to keep themselves in power. Now is the time to return to the vision of America’s founders – a government truly run by the people.

Backup: Term Limits

Opening Quote

Franklin D Roosevelt. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/democracy.html#8zPRbtsBSYKDC7pz.99

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.

THE PROBLEM

Rise of the Career Population

Niraj Chokshi, (policy reporter at NJ. Previously a staff editor at The Atlantic and reported on the nation’s largest law firms for The Recorder). July 9, 2013. Published by the National Journal. “The Rise of the Career Politician.” http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/the-rise-of-the-career-politician-20130709

The number of House members whose previous careers were in public service or politics has risen steadily from 94 to 184 from 1987 to today, according to congressional data compiled by the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute.

Civil Service officials have an average tenure of 23 years

Professor Alexander Tabarrok (Ph.D. from George Mason University. Currently teaches in the Department of Economics at GMU). Fall 1994. Published by The Cato Journal. “A Survey, Critique, and New Defense of Term Limits.” http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1994/11/cj14n2-9.pdf

In the United States, senior officials in the civil service have an average tenure of 23 years. Similar lengths of term are not uncommon among Senators or even Congressmen in the present unlimited system but would be impossible under a term limit system.

Impact 1: Careerists Focus on the Career, Not the People

Patrick Basham, (Ph.D. in Political Economy from Cambridge University. He is currently the Director of the Democracy Institute and an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the New York Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times; he has appeared in the flesh on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, PBS, NPR, and the BBC). After May 2011. NOTE: Specific publication date not listed. Published by Our Generation. “Term Limits: A Reform That Works.” http://ourgeneration.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/term-limits.pdf

Careerism flourishes because incumbents are virtually certain to be re-elected, largely because of the inherent advantages of holding office. Careerism poses several problems for our system of representative democracy. Once in office, careerist legislators pay less attention to the needs and wishes of their constituents. Moreover, careerist elected officials become a political class attentive to their own interests.

Impact 2: Voters re-elect Congressmen who bring in the money

Professor Dan Bernhardt (Ph.D. in Economics from Carnegie Mellon University. Currently teaches Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Sangita Dubey (Ph.D. in Economics from Queen’s University [all but dissertation complete]), and Professor Eric Hughson (Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. Currently teaches Finance and Economics at Claremont McKenna College). May 25, 2004. Published by the Journal of Public Economics. “Term Limits and Pork Barrel Politics.” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272704000386

The core model is missing aspects of the political environment that lead voters to set slacker standards for more senior incumbents. It may be that incumbents become more able with time. One view of this increased ability is that representatives just get better with experience. Then, having more senior representatives in office would be good for society. Surprisingly, however, slightly more than 30% of incumbent governors who ran for re-election lost, and another one-eighth of incumbent governors chose to retire rather than run again (Besley and Case, 1995). Were incumbents simply to become more able over time, one would not expect such a high proportion of governors to lose. An alternative is that more senior incumbents are more proficient at providing pork to their constituencies. This may be because of the allocation by seniority of committee positions in Congress, or because the incumbent becomes more knowledgeable about creating loopholes when crafting legislation. Opinion polls in which voters assert that all Congressmen are bad—except for their Congressman—are consistent with substantial pork provision. Voters want to throw the bums out—except for their bum, whose provision of pork serves them well.

Impact 3: Legislators Become Out-of-Touch

Restart Congress (non-partisan Super PAC “committed to holding Congress accountable for their actions and ultimately re-establishing a government ruled by the people, for the people.”). 2012. “Founding Fathers.” http://restartcongress.org/revolution/founding-fathers/

Still, the Founding Fathers made their viewpoints clear in debates, speeches and writings. They could not have foreseen the modern political climate in which career politicians are standard. At the time of the Constitutional Convention, the notion of a person spending decades away from home to serve in government was unrealistic. A representative would have earned only a “modest” salary for serving his country; unlike today, a position in Congress was not a means to wealth.

[later, in the same context:]

They believed that the very essence of fair and responsible legislation relied upon the premise that those making the laws would soon return to their normal lives to live under the laws they created. When one spends decades as a member of the ruling class, he or she will lose sight of what it means to be a regular citizen. The Founders recognized term limits as the best way to avoid this situation and the dangerous legislation that may result from it – and the same holds true today.

Governors Cannot Provide Pork (A/T: “Incumbent Governors w/o term limits lose frequently”)

Professor Dan Bernhardt (Ph.D. in Economics from Carnegie Mellon University. Currently teaches Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Sangita Dubey (Ph.D. in Economics from Queen’s University [all but dissertation complete]), and Professor Eric Hughson (Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. Currently teaches Finance and Economics at Claremont McKenna College). May 25, 2004. Published by the Journal of Public Economics. “Term Limits and Pork Barrel Politics.” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272704000386

Pork provision can explain why very few incumbent members of Congress lost between 1960 and 1988, but slightly more than 30% of incumbent governors who ran for re-election lost, and another one eighth of incumbent governors chose to retire rather than run again (Besley and Case 1995): Congressmen, but not governors, supply pork.

THE SOLUTION

Solution: 14-year Total Limit

Professor Bruce E Cain (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, also studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Currently teaches Political Science at Stanford University), and Associate Professor Thad Kousser (Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley. Currently teaches Political Science at UC Sand Diego). 2004. Published by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Adapting to Term Limits: Recent Experiences and New Directions.” http://faculty.washington.edu/jwilker/382/term%20limits.pdf

There is little voter appetite for eliminating term limits, but it may be possible to modify the existing limits to provide for a total service limit rather than a specific one for each legislative house. Instead of allowing legislators six years in the Assembly and eight in the Senate, a new provision could limit members to 14 years of total legislative service. Oklahoma’s term-limit law has just such a “mix-and-match” provision. This alteration would do little to erode the gains brought by Proposition 140. The Legislature is already more diverse, and the oldest Senators have already been termed out. Because nearly every Senator today is a former Assembly member, limiting total legislative service would not increase the average age or tenure in the Senate. That change would be likely to increase Assembly tenures, however, and our findings suggest that this outcome may be beneficial. A mix and-match provision would stem the flow from the Assembly into the Senate and allow legislators who stay in one house to learn more about particular policy areas and committees. Experience levels for Assembly chairs and consultants, which have dropped to very low levels, would rebound. Assembly committees could also perform their gatekeeping function more proficiently. Crucially, Assembly leaders and budget negotiators who chose not to run for the Senate would have more time to obtain expertise and lead their caucuses effectively. As a result, the Legislature as a whole could be strengthened in its budget negotiations and oversight action. This type of term-limit law would make the houses more equal in experience and the branches more equal in power even as it ensured the turnover required by Proposition 140.

Term Limits Create Turnover

Jennifer Drage Bowser, (Project Manager for the Joint Team on Term Limits at the National Conference on State Legislatures.) 2003. Published by The Council of State Governments. “The Effects of Legislative Term Limits.” http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/drupal/system/files/2003_bowser.pdf

Often, over half the legislature is ineligible to run for reelection in the year that term limits first take effect. Over time, the turnover rates under term limits will likely level out, but the immediate effect has been to increase turnover in the term-limited states by an average of 10.7 percent in the decade of 1992-2000 compared to 1982-1990. In the 2002 elections, nine of the 10 highest turnover states had term limits.

Automatic Open Seats

Professor Kenneth Mayer (Ph.D. from Yale University in Political Science. He currently teaches Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), Assistant Professor Timothy Werner (Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His is currently an assistant professor of Business, Government & Scoiety at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin), and Amanda Williams. January 2006. Published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Political Science. “Do Public Funding Programs Enhance Electoral Competition?” http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1014&context=mayer&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.com%2Fscholar%3Fq%3Delection%2B%252B%2Bpublic%2Bfunds%26btnG%3D%26hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D0%252C1%26as_ylo%3D2000%26as_yhi%3D2013#search=%22election%20%2B%20public%20funds%22

Term limits are another option. Barring incumbents from running past their fourth term (or whatever limit is imposed) automatically creates open seats, which at least guarantee new faces, if not changes in party control.

More Women

Patrick Basham, (Ph.D. in Political Economy from Cambridge University. He is currently the Director of the Democracy Institute and an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the New York Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times; he has appeared in the flesh on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, PBS, NPR, and the BBC). After May 2011. NOTE: Specific publication date not listed. Published by Our Generation. “Term Limits: A Reform That Works.” http://ourgeneration.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/term-limits.pdf

A recent analysis examined the number of female legislators in both chambers of the state legislatures in all 50 states from 1990 to 2006. The study included 21 states with term limits and 29 states that had never had term limits. The results suggest a positive relationship between term limits and women’s representation in state legislatures. This research is among the first to show a statistically significant relationship; the actual impact is estimated at 2.6 percent. In other words, women’s representation in legislatures is approximately 2.6 percent higher in term-limited states than in non-term limited states.

Voters Are Trapped (R/T: “If terrible, why do they keep relecting the same terrible reps?”)

Professor Alexander Tabarrok (Ph.D. from George Mason University. Currently teaches in the Department of Economics at GMU). Fall 1994. Published by The Cato Journal. “A Survey, Critique, and New Defense of Term Limits.” http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1994/11/cj14n2-9.pdf

Voters reason that they should reelect their representative because senior representatives have more power in Congress and will be able to bring home more pork. But all voters reason in this way, so each region reelects its representative but none gain the hoped-for extra pork because seniority is relative. Even though reelecting incumbents does not increase seniority (and so does not make voters better off) not reelecting dramatically reduces seniority and so makes voters worse off. Voters are trapped into continually reelecting incumbents even though it makes the voters no better off. In fact, continual reelection makes voters worse off because politicians understand that the more senior they are the less likely the public is to vote them out of office. Since there is little threat to their jobs, senior politicians feel free to shirk and deviate from the voter’s preferences.

Limits Create a Rotation of Power

Professor Alexander Tabarrok (Ph.D. from George Mason University. Currently teaches in the Department of Economics at GMU). Fall 1994. Published by The Cato Journal. “A Survey, Critique, and New Defense of Term Limits.” http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1994/11/cj14n2-9.pdf

Over the 1960—90 period, for example, House seats switched party 5.0 percent of the time when an incumbent ran and 25.7 percent of the time in an open election. In the Senate, parties rotated 15.5 percent of the time when an incumbent ran but 42.7 percent of the time when the election was open. The probability of a rotation of power is five times more likely in the House and nearly three times more likely in the Senate in an open election than in an election with an incumbent.

No Polarization (A/T: “Term Limits make legislators more partisan”)

Professor Bruce E Cain (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, also studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Currently teaches Political Science at Stanford University), and Associate Professor Thad Kousser (Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley. Currently teaches Political Science at UC Sand Diego). 2004. Published by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Adapting to Term Limits: Recent Experiences and New Directions.” http://faculty.washington.edu/jwilker/382/term%20limits.pdf

What is the overall effect of term limits on partisan polarization in California? We find no evidence that term limits have led to the election of ideological extremists. Comparing the voting records of new members in their first year to those of veterans, and controlling for the partisan makeup of districts, we see little change in the character of newly elected legislators. In fact, the 1986 Assembly class may have been slightly more polarized than the class of 1996. Further, term limits may make the Legislature as a whole more moderate by halting the extremist drift that most members appear to experience over their careers. The sole polarizing effect of Proposition 140 comes when members are termed out of a house; in their final session, they are freed from the electoral pressures that would otherwise push them toward the center. Our examination of individual voting records shows that the California Legislature has indeed become more polarized since the initiative was adopted but that term limits are not to blame.

SUCCESS STORIES

Worked in California

Professor Richard Clucas (Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He Currently Teaches Political Science at Portland State University and is Executive Director of the Western Political Science Association). February 2003. Published in the book The Test of Time: Coping with Legislative Term Limits. “California: The New Amateur Politics.” http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=8w41rq5eC1MC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=institute+term+limits&ots=8DY91HH911&sig=XVbJHLvkSPWXHKpXfAQ7mw4xVv4#v=onepage&q=institute%20term%20limits&f=false

In sum, these two tables tell us that the introduction of term limits has increased the competitiveness of legislative elections. There are more open-seat races. More candidates are competing. The election margins have tended to be closer, especially in the Assembly. The one manner in which competition has become more limited, as term limit opponents would point out, is that voters can no longer vote for termed out incumbents.

Shorter tenures in California

Professor Richard Clucas (Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He Currently Teaches Political Science at Portland State University and is Executive Director of the Western Political Science Association). February 2003. Published in the book The Test of Time: Coping with Legislative Term Limits. “California: The New Amateur Politics.” http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=8w41rq5eC1MC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=institute+term+limits&ots=8DY91HH911&sig=XVbJHLvkSPWXHKpXfAQ7mw4xVv4#v=onepage&q=institute%20term%20limits&f=false

With the exception of two redistricting years (1974 and 1982), the turnover rate in the Assembly never exceeded 29 percent between the late 1960s until the first post-term limits election in 1992. During the transition period and into the new era, the turnover rate each session has remained at or above 35 percent. The Senate has gone through a similar, though less dramatic, change. While turnover has risen, tenure has declined. By the late 1980s, the average length of tenure of Assembly members was over seven years and for senators over nine. In the 1999-2000 term, the average tenure is under three years in both houses.

Increased Diversity in California

Professor Richard Clucas (Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He Currently Teaches Political Science at Portland State University and is Executive Director of the Western Political Science Association). February 2003. Published in the book The Test of Time: Coping with Legislative Term Limits. “California: The New Amateur Politics.” http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=8w41rq5eC1MC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=institute+term+limits&ots=8DY91HH911&sig=XVbJHLvkSPWXHKpXfAQ7mw4xVv4#v=onepage&q=institute%20term%20limits&f=false

There has been an increase of Latinos and women in both houses since the introduction of term limits. Prior to term limits, the percentage of Latinos never surpassed 7 percent in the Assembly, and 5 percent in the Senate. In the 1999-00 session, 16 percent of the Assembly and 17.5 percent of the Senate were Latinos. The percentage of women has also reached record highs. In the 1999-00 session, 26 percent of the Assembly and 25 percent of the Senate were female.

ADVOCACY

Founding Fathers Endorse

Restart Congress (non-partisan Super PAC “committed to holding Congress accountable for their actions and ultimately re-establishing a government ruled by the people, for the people.”). 2012. “Founding Fathers.” http://restartcongress.org/revolution/founding-fathers/

The Founding Fathers imagined a Congress of citizen legislators. James Madison described the ideal representative as one “called for the most part from pursuits of a private nature and continued in appointment for a short period of office.” George Mason stated further, “Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens.” Jefferson defended his position in favor of Congressional term limits with: “My reason for fixing them in office for a term of years, rather than for life, was that they might have an idea that they were at a certain period to return into the mass of the people and become the governed instead of the governors which might still keep alive that regard to the public good that otherwise they might perhaps be induced by their independence to forget.”

Founding Father Never Imagined Today’s Legislature

Restart Congress (non-partisan Super PAC “committed to holding Congress accountable for their actions and ultimately re-establishing a government ruled by the people, for the people.”). 2012. “Founding Fathers.” http://restartcongress.org/revolution/founding-fathers/

Still, the Founding Fathers made their viewpoints clear in debates, speeches and writings. They could not have foreseen the modern political climate in which career politicians are standard. At the time of the Constitutional Convention, the notion of a person spending decades away from home to serve in government was unrealistic. A representative would have earned only a “modest” salary for serving his country; unlike today, a position in Congress was not a means to wealth.

Americans widely support term limits

Patrick Basham, (Ph.D. in Political Economy from Cambridge University. He is currently the Director of the Democracy Institute and an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the New York Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times; he has appeared in the flesh on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, PBS, NPR, and the BBC). After May 2011. NOTE: Specific publication date not listed. Published by Our Generation. “Term Limits: A Reform That Works.” http://ourgeneration.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/term-limits.pdf

Despite a steady onslaught of negative commentary emanating from the political and media establishments, a very large number of Americans continue to support term limits. For example, Our Generation recently polled over two million people and found that 96 percent of the responders favor term limits.

Limit-legislation Proposed

Patrick Basham, (Ph.D. in Political Economy from Cambridge University. He is currently the Director of the Democracy Institute and an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute’s Center for Representative Government. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the New York Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times; he has appeared in the flesh on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, PBS, NPR, and the BBC). After May 2011. NOTE: Specific publication date not listed. Published by Our Generation. “Term Limits: A Reform That Works.” http://ourgeneration.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/term-limits.pdf

Eleven Republican senators are currently pushing a new constitutional amendment that would limit senators to two terms and members of the House to three terms. Authored by Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and cosponsored by ten other Republican senators, the amendment faces a Democratic majority in the Senate, but a companion bill is expected to be introduced soon in the Republican-controlled U.S. House. The amendment would require passage by twothirds of the House and Senate and then approval in two-thirds (38) of the country’s state legislatures for ratification.

BONUS: Negative Brief

Quote for the Opening: (and if you want to call the affirmative team a monster)

“…And we would like to turn our song into a prayer. The prayer is that we don’t become a monster in order to defeat a monster. That’s our prayer, tonight.”

– Bono, after 2005 London Subway Bombings

Neg Philosophy: Term Limits is a solution in search of a problem. In fact, having career politicians is arguably good. Constantly bringing brand-new, inexperienced legislators to the Capitol will only exacerbate the current gridlock. Additionally, inexperienced legislators are more prone to look to special interests for advice and are less likely to (know how to) hold the executive branch accountable. The other major argument is that term limits actually harm accountability. First, lame duck legislators have no incentive to please the people, and can therefore vote for/pass whatever plans they please, regardless of the people’s voice. Second, term limits eliminate the ability of voters to selectively retain legislators they like and who do a good job – in other words, there is significantly decreased incentive for legislators to please the people who elected them, since they can’t be elected again.

INHERENCY: No need

Term Limits Already Prevalent

Professor Michael Smart (Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University. Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto) and Associate Professor Daniel M. Sturm, (Ph.D. in Economics from the London School of Economics. Currently a professor at the same college). July 2006. Published by the Social Science Research Network. “Term Limits and Electoral Accountability.” Note: Section quoted here is from Abstract of paper. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1077756

Currently, in the United States the office of the president, over two-thirds of state governors and many other politicians in the state executive face term limits.

Currently, more citizen-legislators than ever

Assistant Professor Alexander Tabarrok (Ph.D. from George Mason University. He is currently a Professor of Economics at George Mason University). Fall 1994. Published by the Cato Institute. “A suvery, critique, and new defense of term limits.” http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1994/11/cj14n2-9.pdf

If a citizen-legislator is a representative who shares similar characteristics with her constituents then it is clear that we have more citizen-legislators today than ever before. Not only are women and minorities better represented in the late 20th century but representatives are more likely to come from the same “class” as voters (as measured, for example, by education levels; Bogue et al. 1976).

SOLVENCY 1: Term Limits Do Not Increase Citizen Legislators

Failed Purpose in California

Professor Bruce E Cain (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, also studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Currently teaches Political Science at Stanford University), and Associate Professor Thad Kousser (Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley. Currently teaches Political Science at UC Sand Diego). 2004. Published by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Adapting to Term Limits: Recent Experiences and New Directions.” http://faculty.washington.edu/jwilker/382/term%20limits.pdf [note: Proposition 140 is the California measure instituting term limits in the state]

Even the major figure behind Proposition 140, Pete Schabarum, recently voiced his discontent with the results. “What I was hoping was that we would have a group of 120 legislators who were actually private citizens willing to give a piece of their lives to public service. None of that is happening. It’s become a partisan cesspool” (Sprague, 2004).

High Turnover Rates do not ensure legislators with diverse backgrounds

Assistant Professor Alexander Tabarrok (Ph.D. from George Mason University. He is currently a Professor of Economics at George Mason University). Fall 1994. Published by the Cato Institute. “A suvery, critique, and new defense of term limits.” http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1994/11/cj14n2-9.pdf

Historically the House was not more diverse when turnover was high. During the 19th century, when turnover rates were four to six times greater than they are today, lawyers made up over 60 percent of the House, more than at any other time before or since. The occupational background of representatives has remained remarkably stable since the founding of the United States. Lawyers have always made up about 50 to 60 percent of the House and since the 1850s those with business backgrounds, the largest group after lawyers, have constituted about 20 percent of the House (Bogue et al. 1976)

Career Politicians Actually Empowered

Professor Bruce E Cain (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, also studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Currently teaches Political Science at Stanford University), and Associate Professor Thad Kousser (Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley. Currently teaches Political Science at UC Sand Diego). 2004. Published by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Adapting to Term Limits: Recent Experiences and New Directions.” http://faculty.washington.edu/jwilker/382/term%20limits.pdf

To begin with, term limits did not lessen political careerism. The number of new members who were former legislative staffers dropped from 40 percent in the 1980s to 16 percent in the 1990s, but the percentage of local officeholders who won legislative seats increased from 52 percent to 64 percent. In other words, local officeholders and candidates from the private sector were the primary beneficiaries of the new opportunities created by term limits. Given the expense of running for office in California’s large legislative districts, it was difficult for inexperienced, less affluent candidates to win legislative seats in large numbers.

SOLVENCY 2: Human Interests Not Improved

Term Limits Decrease Women’s Representation

Jennifer Drage Bowser, (Project Manager for the Joint Team on Term Limits at the National Conference on State Legislatures.) 2003. Published by The Council of State Governments. “The Effects of Legislative Term Limits.” http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/drupal/system/files/2003_bowser.pdf

One trend that seems to be emerging in nearly all term-limits states is a decrease in the number of women in the legislature. The percentage of state house seats held by women in 11 states under term limits decreased from 25.5 percent before the 2000 election to 23.6 percent after.

Term Limits Mostly Not Responsible for Increased Women (California)

Professor Bruce E Cain (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, also studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Currently teaches Political Science at Stanford University), and Associate Professor Thad Kousser (Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley. Currently teaches Political Science at UC Sand Diego). 2004. Published by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Adapting to Term Limits: Recent Experiences and New Directions.” http://faculty.washington.edu/jwilker/382/term%20limits.pdf

Since 1990, that representation has increased dramatically, with eight new Assemblywomen per two-year cycle and five new women per four-year cycle in the Senate. Before attributing all of this increase to term limits, however, we should note the timing of the large surges. Much of this increase occurred in 1992, often dubbed the “Year of the Woman” (Figure 2.3). Four years before Proposition 140 brought its first set of forced retirements, 15 women were elected to the two houses. National events likely increased the propensity of high-quality female candidates to run, and the 1991 Special Masters’ redistricting gave them the opportunity by creating many open seats. After dropping in 1994, the number of new female legislators grew sharply, bringing in 28 new Assemblywomen and 11 new female Senators. Whom did they replace? From 1996 to 2001, 71 percent of the new Assemblywomen replaced a term-limited member, 25 percent replaced someone who ran for another office, and only one (Wilma Chan) defeated an incumbent. This pattern contrasts with that of the 1990–1995 period, when 23 percent beat an incumbent, 23 percent replaced an incumbent who retired or died, and 27 percent won a new seat created by redistricting. The remaining 27 percent replaced a member running for another office, probably in anticipation of term limits. Using this calculus, we estimate that 18 of the 25 Assemblywomen newly elected from 1990 to 1995 did not owe their victory to term limits. Over the next three elections, 27 Assemblywomen won seats that were directly or indirectly vacated as a result of term limits. Comparing these figures indicates that term limits opened up nine Assembly seats for women over the course of three elections.

Women Representing CA nationally also increased, despite no term limits (A/T: “Term Limits in CA led to more women”)

Professor Bruce E Cain (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, also studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Currently teaches Political Science at Stanford University), and Associate Professor Thad Kousser (Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley. Currently teaches Political Science at UC Sand Diego). 2004. Published by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Adapting to Term Limits: Recent Experiences and New Directions.” http://faculty.washington.edu/jwilker/382/term%20limits.pdf

From 1990 to 2000, the share of state legislative seats held by women grew from 19.2 percent to 29.2 percent. Over the same period, the percentage of women in California’s House seats rose from 6.7 percent to 30.8 percent. In 1992, Californians also elected Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. This analysis suggests that term limits have not been responsible for any of the increase in women’s representation.

No More Racial Diversity in California with term limits

Professor Bruce E Cain (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, also studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Currently teaches Political Science at Stanford University), and Associate Professor Thad Kousser (Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley. Currently teaches Political Science at UC Sand Diego). 2004. Published by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Adapting to Term Limits: Recent Experiences and New Directions.” http://faculty.washington.edu/jwilker/382/term%20limits.pdf

A similar story can be told about black, Latino, and Asian American representation in the Legislature. The dramatic increase in minority legislators was ultimately the product of underlying demographic change. California’s Latino and Asian American populations grew dramatically in the 1980s and 1990s. Because much of this growth came from immigration, its political implications were delayed; foreign-born residents had to become naturalized and then active in the political system.

California, Florida diversity a product of population changes, not term limits

Jennifer Drage Bowser, (Project Manager for the Joint Team on Term Limits at the National Conference on State Legislatures.) 2003. Published by The Council of State Governments. “The Effects of Legislative Term Limits.” http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/drupal/system/files/2003_bowser.pdf

Proponents claim that term limits bring more ethnic diversity to the legislature. However, much of the increase in minority representation has come in states like California and Florida that have booming minority populations. It has been argued that the increase in minority representation began as a result of the increasing minority population, well before term limits were implemented in these states.

SOLVENCY 3: Voters Still Decide

Incumbency is a Problem of the Voters (A/T: “Terrible incumbents stay in office”)

Assistant Professor Alexander Tabarrok (Ph.D. from George Mason University. He is currently a Professor of Economics at George Mason University). Fall 1994. Published by the Cato Institute. “A suvery, critique, and new defense of term limits.” http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1994/11/cj14n2-9.pdf

A central problem with all of these arguments is that the people who are being implored to vote for term limits are the same people who reelect their representatives. Ultimately, it is the voters who are responsible for incumbency advantage. Term limit proponents treat incumbency advantage as if it were an exogenous force imposed upon the voters by a nefarious power. They often fail to ask, “If incumbency advantage creates unresponsive politicians why do voters continue to reelect their representatives?”

Impact: If voters continually select terrible politicians…why won’t they continue to do so? It’s not like we have a shortage of terrible ones to vote for.

SOLVENCY 4: Less Effective Legislators

Term-Limited Legislators did LESS to check Executive Branch

Professor Bruce E Cain (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, also studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Currently teaches Political Science at Stanford University), and Associate Professor Thad Kousser (Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley. Currently teaches Political Science at UC Sand Diego). 2004. Published by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Adapting to Term Limits: Recent Experiences and New Directions.” http://faculty.washington.edu/jwilker/382/term%20limits.pdf

This chapter examines the effects of term limits in three critical areas of the relationship between the legislative and executive branches of California state government. First and most important is the process of negotiation over the state budget. Looking closely at line items from four budgets written during comparable sessions, we find that the Legislature has made roughly 50 percent fewer amendments to the governor’s budget since the implementation of term limits.

Worse Bill Screening

Professor Bruce E Cain (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, also studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Currently teaches Political Science at Stanford University), and Associate Professor Thad Kousser (Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley. Currently teaches Political Science at UC Sand Diego). 2004. Published by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Adapting to Term Limits: Recent Experiences and New Directions.” http://faculty.washington.edu/jwilker/382/term%20limits.pdf

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters explains that, since term limits, “Freshman Democrats show up in December and they say, ‘Here’s your office. The bathroom’s down the hall. And by the way, you’re a committee chairman’” (Walters, 2001). Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, for example, was first elected in November 1998 and was appointed chair of the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. How did he fare compared to his pre-term limits counterpart? Our sample of bills from the 1999–2000 session includes 50 bills that were assigned to Steinberg’s committee. Forty-three passed, giving the committee a gatekeeping rate of 14 percent. The Labor Committee amended only 13 of these bills, but as the 43 passed bills worked their way through the legislative process, they were collectively amended 14 times by other Assembly committees and a dozen times on the Assembly floor. The 14 Assembly bills that advanced to the Senate were altered 25 times in that body. The frequency of amendments at other points in the process suggests that these bills were not finished products when they emerged from Steinberg’s committee. Contrast these figures to the record of the Labor Committee during the 1979–1980 session, when it was chaired by Bill Lockyer. Although Lockyer was in his first term as chair and had no prior experience on the committee, he had served in the Assembly since 1972. His committee approved only 46 of the 60 bills assigned to it, a gatekeeping rate of 23.3 percent, and amended 20 of these bills. After passing out of the Labor Committee, these 46 bills were amended nine times in other committees and four times on the floor. In the Senate, 19 amendments were made to the 18 Assembly bills that had been moved out of Lockyer’s committee. The deference shown to the committee’s work indicates that it did a better job of screening and shaping labor legislation before term limits than afterward.

State-Level Success Does Not Guarantee Success Elsewhere (A/T: “Term Limits Worked in the State of ____”)

Jennifer Drage Bowser, (Project Manager for the Joint Team on Term Limits at the National Conference on State Legislatures.) 2003. Published by The Council of State Governments. “The Effects of Legislative Term Limits.” http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/drupal/system/files/2003_bowser.pdf

The first lesson to heed when studying term limits is that it is very difficult to generalize across states about their effects. What happens in Arkansas, a smaller population state with a citizen legislature, does not necessarily happen in California, a large population state with a highly professionalized legislature. Results vary according to the type of limits too — states with shorter limits, such as Michigan’s lifetime limit of six years in the House and eight in the Senate, are likely to see more dramatic effects than states with more generous limits, like Arizona’s limit of no more than eight consecutive years per chamber.

DISADVANTAGE 1: Chaos Ensues

Loss of Institutional Memory

Jennifer Drage Bowser, (Project Manager for the Joint Team on Term Limits at the National Conference on State Legislatures.) 2003. Published by The Council of State Governments. “The Effects of Legislative Term Limits.” http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/drupal/system/files/2003_bowser.pdf

Scholars and legislators alike often bemoan the loss of “institutional memory” that term limits inflict. Institutional memory provides the history, context and informal behavior cues that are so critical to the legislative process. Losing institutional memory means that there is no longer anyone around to say, “We dealt with that 10 years ago. Here’s what we learned, and why we chose to act in the way that we did.” The current difficult economic times provide a good example of when institutional memory is most valuable — there is no doubt that the legislators currently serving would appreciate the advice of members who have lived through the experience of balancing a budget in the face of declining revenues.

Complex Issues Demand Experience

Ruth Marcus (J.D. from Harvard Law School, Pulitzer Prize Finalist). September 6, 2011. Published by the Washington Post (Opinion). “Those career politicians.” http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-09-06/opinions/35274205_1_career-politicians-sarah-palin-fiorina

The romantic image of the citizen-legislator, Cincinnatus called to service and then returning to his plow, is a constant theme of American political life. Yet a government composed entirely of Cincinnati would be dangerously ineffective. As James Madison wrote in Federalist 62: “A good government implies two things: first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained.” In other words: Wanting to do the right thing doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to get it done. The political short-timer has little interest in forging relationships or building the coalitions necessary for productive compromise. The reviled “career politician” may have been around long enough to see this play before. The more complicated the issues, from health care to defense spending, the more valuable the institutional knowledge.

Lack of Experience Has an Effect

Ruth Marcus (J.D. from Harvard Law School, Pulitzer Prize Finalist). September 6, 2011. Published by the Washington Post (Opinion). “Those career politicians.” http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-09-06/opinions/35274205_1_career-politicians-sarah-palin-fiorina

I’d argue, for example, that President Obama’s current difficulties stem less from his being a “career politician” than from the fact that his political career was so brief before he won the White House. Experience matters, even in politics. This is why Vice President Biden, with long-standing relationships in Congress, brings value to the Obama White House. It is why governorships have proved to be such an effective preparation for the presidency.

In the private sector, experience is crucial

Ruth Marcus (J.D. from Harvard Law School, Pulitzer Prize Finalist). September 6, 2011. Published by the Washington Post (Opinion). “Those career politicians.” http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-09-06/opinions/35274205_1_career-politicians-sarah-palin-fiorina

My point is different: that the attack on the “career politician” is as misguided as it is familiar. Your career politician is my devoted public servant. Imagine this line of argument applied to another job. “Unlike my competition, I haven’t spent my life in the oil industry,” an aspirant to the chief executive post at Exxon Mobil announces. “I’m no career retailer,” crows a would-be Wal-Mart head.

Staff Cannot Substitute (A/T: Staff will just serve as institutional memory”)

Jennifer Drage Bowser, (Project Manager for the Joint Team on Term Limits at the National Conference on State Legislatures.) 2003. Published by The Council of State Governments. “The Effects of Legislative Term Limits.” http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/drupal/system/files/2003_bowser.pdf

To a certain extent, improved record-keeping and technological advances can help to make up for this loss, and in many states, long-serving staff are filling this role. However, there are indications that the staff turnover rate is higher under term limits too. In states like California and Michigan, where members have personal staff, the staff often leave the legislature when the member they serve leaves. Even states like Colorado, where the staff structure is largely centralized and nonpartisan, are experiencing turnover in senior staff. This may not be due to term limits at all, but instead to the fact that many of these staff were hired in the 1970s and 1980s as legislatures were going through a period of rapid professionalization, and the staff members hired during that period are reaching retirement age. Nonetheless, the fact remains that experienced staff play an important role in the term-limited legislature, and term-limited legislatures appear to be losing their staff at an accelerated rate.

DISADVANTAGE 2: Special Interests Empowered

Professor Bruce E Cain (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, also studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Currently teaches Political Science at Stanford University), and Associate Professor Thad Kousser (Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley. Currently teaches Political Science at UC Sand Diego). 2004. Published by the Public Policy Institute of California. “Adapting to Term Limits: Recent Experiences and New Directions.” http://faculty.washington.edu/jwilker/382/term%20limits.pdf

Many legislators turned to lobbyists for guidance. A few new members confessed that in their first year, over 90 percent of their bills were drafted or given to them by lobbyists. When members had questions that their staff and other members could not answer, they called lobbyists for explanations. Although consulting with lobbyists is not a new practice in the California Legislature, some interviewees told us that since term limits were implemented, members have relied more on lobbyists to craft bills.

DISADVANTAGE 3: Decreased Accountability

Elections Ensure Accountability

Professor Michael Smart (Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University. Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto) and Associate Professor Daniel M. Sturm, (Ph.D. in Economics from the London School of Economics. Currently a professor at the same college). March 2013. Published by the London School of Economics and Political Science. “Term Limits and Electoral Accountability.” http://personal.lse.ac.uk/sturmd/papers/wp/smart-sturm.pdf

In representative democracies, periodic elections are the main instrument through which voters can hold politicians accountable. A broad lesson from the growing literature on political economy is that electoral accountability should benefit voters through two main channels. First, elections enable voters to selectively retain incumbents whose track record suggests that they are of high ability. Second, electoral accountability constrains opportunistic behavior of incumbents. If the payoffs from future terms in office are sufficiently large, then the threat of being replaced by a challenger should reduce politicians’ willingness to implement policies which are not in the interests of the electorate.

Term Limits Remove Accountability Measure

Professor Michael Smart (Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University. Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto) and Associate Professor Daniel M. Sturm, (Ph.D. in Economics from the London School of Economics. Currently a professor at the same college). July 2006. Published by the London School of Economics and Political Science. “Term Limits and Electoral Accountability.” http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1077756′

In representative democracies, periodic elections are the main instrument through which voters can hold politicians accountable. A broad lesson from the growing literature on political economy is that electoral accountability should benefit voters through two main channels. First, elections enable voters to selectively retain good incumbents. If politicians have heterogeneous preferences, for example, then politicians with preferences which are close to those of the electorate should face a higher re-election probability. Second, electoral accountability constrains opportunistic behavior by incumbents. If the payoffs from future terms in office are sufficiently large, then the threat of being replaced by a challenger should reduce politicians’ willingness to implement policies which are not in the interests of the electorate. From this perspective term limits, which limit politicians to a maximum number of terms in office, are a curious intervention into the political process. In the presence of term limits voters are unable to retain good politicians who face a binding term limit. Furthermore, term limits will reduce or, in the case of a binding term limit, eliminate the incumbent’s payoffs from future periods in office, which reduces voters’ ability to punish opportunistic behavior by threatening to replace the incumbent with a challenger.

No Incentive to Please the People

Associate Professor Maurizio Zanardi (Ph.D. in Economics from Boston College. He currently teaches Economics at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles), Associate Professor Paola Conconi (Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Warwick. She currently teaches at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, and is a Research Fellow of the Centre for Economic Political Research), and Assistant Professor Nicolas Sahuguet (Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He currently teaches at the Institute of Applied Economics at HEC Montreal). August 30, 2008. Published by VOX. “Democracy and accountability: The perverse effects of term limits.” http://www.voxeu.org/article/democracy-and-accountability-perverse-effects-term-limits

Term limits may reduce the disciplining effect of electoral accountability, as politicians who cannot be re-elected have little to lose from displeasing voters and may thus behave in a more self-interested way.

[later, in the same context:]

In autocracies and democracies with term limits, in which there is no need for “contract renewal”, politicians can adopt unpopular policies with no repercussion on whether or not they are able to stay in power.

Elections Provide Incentive

Professor James Alt (Ph.D. in Government from the University of Essex. Currently teaches Government and Political Economy at Harvard University), Professor Ethan Bueno de Mesquita (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. Currently teaches in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago), and Assistant Professor Shanna Rose (Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University, She currently teaches economics and politics at New York University). January 2011. Published by the Journal of Politics of the Southern Political Science Association. “Disentangling Accountability and Competence in Elections: Evidence from U.S. Term Limits.” http://home.uchicago.edu/~bdm/PDF/term_limits.pdf

Voters’ threat to reelect only incumbents believed to be good types gives politicians an incentive to exert effort in order to try to convince voters that they are ‘‘good’’ (that is, more competent than they really are).

DISADVANTAGE 4: Impacts of Less Accountability / Incentive

Less economic growth, higher taxes

Professor James Alt (Ph.D. in Government from the University of Essex. Currently teaches Government and Political Economy at Harvard University), Professor Ethan Bueno de Mesquita (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. Currently teaches in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago), and Assistant Professor Shanna Rose (Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University, She currently teaches economics and politics at New York University). January 2011. Published by the Journal of Politics of the Southern Political Science Association. “Disentangling Accountability and Competence in Elections: Evidence from U.S. Term Limits.” http://home.uchicago.edu/~bdm/PDF/term_limits.pdf

In regression models with state and year fixed effects, state time trends, and a variety of economic and political controls, we find that economic growth is higher and taxes, spending, and borrowing costs are lower under reelection-eligible incumbents than under term-limited incumbents, holding tenure in office constant (evidence of an accountability effect), and under second-term incumbents than under first term incumbents, holding term-limit status constant (evidence of a competence effect). We find that these two effects are of comparable magnitudes.

Example 1: For lame-duck governors, $7 – $9 avg. tax increase per capita

Professor Timothy Besley (D.Phil and M.Phil in Economics from Oxford University. Currently teaches Economics and Political Science at the London School of Economics) and Professor Anne Case (Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton. Currently teaches Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton). August 1995. Published by the Quarterly Journal of Economics. “Does electoral accountability affect economic policy choices? Evidence from gubernatorial term limits.” http://www.princeton.edu/~accase/downloads/Does_Electoral_Accountability_Affect_Economic_Policy_Choices.pdf

We find a positive and significant effect of a governor working under a term limit on the level of state sales taxes (column 1). When a governor faces a term limit, sales taxes per capita will be $7 to $8 higher in all years of this final term. (This is roughly 3 percent of the mean state sales tax.) Income taxes also rise significantly in states led by governors ineligible to stand for reelection. On average, income taxes per capita are nearly $9 higher in all years of a lame duck’s term. This is roughly 7 percent of the average income tax collected in states that have income taxes ($127).

Example 2: For lame-duck governors, $15 avg. state spending increase

Professor Timothy Besley (D.Phil and M.Phil in Economics from Oxford University. Currently teaches Economics and Political Science at the London School of Economics) and Professor Anne Case (Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton. Currently teaches Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton). August 1995. Published by the Quarterly Journal of Economics. “Does electoral accountability affect economic policy choices? Evidence from gubernatorial term limits.” http://www.princeton.edu/~accase/downloads/Does_Electoral_Accountability_Affect_Economic_Policy_Choices.pdf

Term limits have a positive and significant effect on total government expenditures per capita. We expect that, when a governor faces a term limit, state spending per person will rise by roughly $15.

Increased Public Spending (Abstract)

Assistant Professor H. Abbie Erler (Ph.D. from Yale University in Political Science. Currently teaches Political Science at Kenyon College). December 2007. Published by Public Choice. From Abstract of “Legislative Term Limits and State Spending.” http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11127-007-9209-2

Supporters of legislative term limits often claim that they will lower state spending levels. Using fiscal data from 48 states from 1977 to 2001, this paper finds little support for this assertion. Instead, this analysis finds that states with term limits have higher spending levels than states without term limits. These results suggest that term limits give legislators greater incentives to deviate from socially optimal fiscal policy by altering the legislative environment in which such policy is formulated.

Impact: Public Spending Limits Economic Growth

DISADVANTAGES by Specific Proposals

Single-Term Limits vs. 2-Term Limits

Professor James Alt (Ph.D. in Government from the University of Essex. Currently teaches Government and Political Economy at Harvard University), Professor Ethan Bueno de Mesquita (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. Currently teaches in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago), and Assistant Professor Shanna Rose (Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University, She currently teaches economics and politics at New York University). January 2011. Published by the Journal of Politics of the Southern Political Science Association. “Disentangling Accountability and Competence in Elections: Evidence from U.S. Term Limits.” http://home.uchicago.edu/~bdm/PDF/term_limits.pdf

The first and third columns show that per capita spending and taxes are three to 5% lower under both first-term eligible governors and second-term lame ducks than under first-term lame ducks, supporting the accountability and competence effects, respectively. This difference, the estimated effect of elections, is of a similar magnitude (but opposite in sign) to the difference made by having a Democratic majority in the state legislature. Column 5 shows that borrowing costs are six to seven basis points lower under both first-term eligible governors and second-term lame ducks, compared to first-term lame ducks. This is similar to the effect of an extra $300 to $400 in real state per capita income. As shown in column 7, the economic growth rate is nearly 0.7 percentage points higher (about a quarter of the average growth rate) under first-term reelection-eligible governors than under first-term lame ducks, reflecting the accountability effect; the positive coefficient on the competence effect goes in the expected direction but falls short of statistical significance at conventional levels

(A/T: “Why are second-term lame ducks better than first-term lame ducks?”)

Professor James Alt (Ph.D. in Government from the University of Essex. Currently teaches Government and Political Economy at Harvard University), Professor Ethan Bueno de Mesquita (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. Currently teaches in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago), and Assistant Professor Shanna Rose (Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University, She currently teaches economics and politics at New York University). January 2011. Published by the Journal of Politics of the Southern Political Science Association. “Disentangling Accountability and Competence in Elections: Evidence from U.S. Term Limits.” http://home.uchicago.edu/~bdm/PDF/term_limits.pdf

As states have gradually switched from one- to two-term limits, voters have increasingly been able to use elections to weed out low-quality incumbents and incumbents have had increased scope for on-the-job learning. As average tenure has increased, performance by term-limited governors has increasingly reflected the effect of greater incumbent competence, offsetting the effect of lower effort over time.

Two-term limit vs. No term limit

Professor James Alt (Ph.D. in Government from the University of Essex. Currently teaches Government and Political Economy at Harvard University), Professor Ethan Bueno de Mesquita (Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. Currently teaches in the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago), and Assistant Professor Shanna Rose (Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard University, She currently teaches economics and politics at New York University). January 2011. Published by the Journal of Politics of the Southern Political Science Association. “Disentangling Accountability and Competence in Elections: Evidence from U.S. Term Limits.” http://home.uchicago.edu/~bdm/PDF/term_limits.pdf

Column 1 reveals that per capita spending is nearly 3% higher under first-term eligible governors than under second-term eligible governors, who have survived reelection and have more experience (competence) as well as stronger incentives to exert effort (accountability), all of which pull in the same direction. The coefficient on second-term lame duck (accountability) has the expected sign but falls short of statistical significance. Column 3 shows that per capita taxes are 3% higher under second-term lame ducks than under second-term eligible governors (accountability), and more than 4% higher under first-term eligible governors than under second-term eligible governors (competence and accountability).

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