- The Washington Times - Friday, March 26, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I was intrigued by William Shipman’s proposal to repeal the 16th Amendment and require the federal government to be funded by a percentage of state revenues. (“Changing the health care game,” Commentary, Wednesday). While we are at it, let’s consider a couple more amendments.

One has received considerable discussion and is gaining in public popularity: Impose term limits on representatives and senators. Amend Sections 2 and 3, respectively, of Article I to limit representatives to, say,four terms and senators to, perhaps, two terms. Then we will have members of Congress who are there to serve their country and return to civilian life rather than career politicians who spend their lives in government. (Rep. John D. Dingell and Sen. Robert C. Byrd come immediately to mind.) Thiswould be the way the Founders envisioned public service.

The second suggested amendment is one that I have not heard before: Amend Section 6 of Article I to provide that senators and representatives receive compensation for their services not from the U.S. Treasury, but from the legislatures oftheir states. This would include pay, allowances, per diem and retirement benefits. State legislatures, closer to the citizenry than the federal government, would determine the value of their senators and representatives. Importantly, Congress members could not vote themselves pay raises and greater benefits as they do now, many times, in the dead of night.

These two constitutional amendments, perhaps combined into one, would bring senators and representatives much closer to the people they represent and much more accountable to them. They likely also would bring congressional compensation much more in line with their value and probably reduce the discrepency between congressional compensation and the average American’s pay. Should our members of Congress, who work for us, be receiving more than twice the salary of the average American, and retirement and health programs most citizens could never dream of having?

LEE AUSTIN

Arlington, Va.

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