- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Say you want a revolution? Tune out potty-mouthed lawmakers and tune in term limits.

It’s deja vu all over again in City Hall, where reckless spending and new tax increases bring to mind the political potholes that brought stakeholder confidence to its knees in the 1990s.

Small wonder that term limits, which claim dibs as headliner of the week so far, took a back seat to a wealthy lawmaker injecting comments about poor people needing shoes and a hot meal to argue his support for higher income taxes.

Well, poor people and residents on fixed incomes need driver’s licenses and other government ID cards, too. Yet those costs are not going down. Instead, the very wealthy and the very poor will be forced to dig a little deeper into their pockets to cover the costs on Oct. 1, when the city imposes new and higher fees.

Now is not the time to tell taxpayers and stakeholders that the costs of living and doing business in the city are on the rise.

Yet that is exactly what lawmakers and the mayor are doing as they mistakenly hitch their wagons onto President Obama, whose road map highlights higher taxes and increased spending.

It’s clear none of these Democrats has the interests of Main Street in mind. Nor are any of them paying attention to Wall Street, where Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded its outlook of D.C. general-obligation bonds and other credit agencies are re-evaluating their prospects. They certainly aren’t paying attention to affairs on Capitol Hill, where a federal shutdown threat looms.

A shutdown would occur if Congress fails to pass legislation authorizing federal and D.C. spending bills by Sept. 30, which is the end of the current fiscal year and, interesting enough, Moody’s warning is tied to federal spending.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, warned city officials Wednesday about the possible shutdown. The same day, a new USA Today/Gallup poll found that 6 in 10 Americans predict the economy will remain unchanged this time next year or will be worsen.

Such pessimism, which has been reflected in other polls, contains two messages: Businesses will be reluctant to hire workers until consumer spending flows, and consumers will be reluctant to spend until unemployment rates ebb.

There’s no getting around the significance of these political and economic confluences: When the city (and federal government) were flush with tax dollars in the 1990s, City Hall turned deaf ears to calls to curb spending and instead led the city down a pockmarked path with signs pointing the way to insolvency.

Frustrated D.C. voters even passed a term-limits initiative in 1994 to send warning signs to City Hall occupants, and interestingly, term limits are back on a front burner.

Courtesy of D.C. Council member Vincent Orange: Lawmakers are considering the Consecutive Term Limit Amendment Act of 2011, which would amend D.C. law and establish term limits on the mayor, all 13 members of the council, Board of Education members, and the attorney general to no more than two consecutive four-year terms.

Better than 60 percent of voters approved a ballot measure along similar lines in 1994, but lawmakers tossed it out.

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