Tuesday, 12 April 2016 11:07

Term limits and Louisiana’s impotent Congressional Delegation

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Term limits for Congress
    It is a never-ending topic of discussion.  Should term limits be set on members of Congress?  To be sure, there has been a lot of talk about it, but no action.
    Now comes a poll of Louisiana voters which reveals that 83% are in favor of limiting congressional terms with 66% strongly supporting such limits.

   The poll was conducted recently by McLaughlin & Associates for the U.S. Term Limits organization and has a margin of error of +/-4.9%.
    The support for term limits among Louisianians crosses party and demographic lines, according to the poll. Republican voters favor term limits by 93%, Democrats by 79%, and Independents by 77%.
    Also, 76% said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who favors term limits. By the same token, 61% said they would be less likely to vote for a term-limit opponent.
    Nick Tomboulides, executive director of U.S. Term Limits, had this to say about the poll:
    “This poll captures an overwhelming sentiment among Louisiana voters.  It also sends a clear message to state politicians who oppose federal level term limits.  Louisianians have made it clear that opposition to term limits can be a deal-breaker at the ballot box.”
    A majority of voters in every category – an average of 87% – also said they think it is unfair that while Louisiana state officeholders were subject to term limits, that the state’s members of Congress are exempt from the current law.
    However, as we have seen in the past, some candidates for Congress espouse term limits and state they will only serve a certain number of terms.
    But when they reach that threshold, they contend their experience and seniority supercede their pledge.

Clout in Congress: Poof!
    Once upon a time – not too long ago – little ole Louisiana had great clout in Congress.  In 2013 in the 113th Congress, the Bayou State was ranked No. 4 of all the states by Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill.
    Here is what Roll Call said at the time: 
    “The Louisiana story is more illustrative of how a relatively small state can throw considerable weight around the Capitol if the delegation plays the internal politics  right.
    “Approaching the end of her third term, Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has claimed the gavel of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and her Senate colleague David Vitter, after less than two terms, is the top Republican on Environment and Public Works. 
    “Having a lopsidedly Republican delegation in the GOP House has helped four of the state’s six congressmen secure seats on the most influential committees, the ones that have the most to do with helping the state’s oil and gas economy: Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce.
    “It’s little surprise the delegation has entered the ranks of those with the most built-in clout. For Landrieu especially, who’s in line to claim the Energy and Natural Resources chairmanship in two years, it will be no surprise when these lawmakers run in 2014 with the pitch that an ant-incumbent mood is not in the voters’ enlightened self-interest.”
    Well, guess what?  Little ole Louisiana, as it is prone to do, voted against its own self-interest by ousting Landrieu from the Senate in the 2014 election.
    The result: In the 114th Congress, with Landrieu no longer in the Senate, Louisiana dropped from No. 4 to No. 30 on the clout index.
    And when Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter exits in 2016, the state will likely drop farther down on the clout index.
    As is usually the case, the great state of Louisiana always seems to be heading in the wrong direction, no matter the study or ranking.
    In the current Congress, the top five states with the most clout are California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Ohio.  Mississippi comes in at No. 18 and Arkansas at No. 38.
    Back in the 113th Congress, the top five with the most clout were California, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and New York. 

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