Limit the Burden of Washington By Limiting Time Spent There
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In professional and college football, they call them coaching or “family trees.” A successful football coach can spawn all manner of proteges spread around the college and professional ranks. Translated, the careers of countless coaches can be traced to names like Nick Saban and Bill Belichick.

These are the knowns of sports. Hopefully someday an enterprising reporter does this for politics. Really, how many family members and staffers tied to Joe Biden owe their gold-plated careers in Washington to Biden’s decades in the U.S. Senate?

On its own it’s interesting how Biden, on a senator’s salary, managed to amass so much wealth from 1972-2008. At the same time, it’s not surprising. When you’re in a position of power inside an entity responsible for the allocation of billions and eventually trillions of dollars, money finds you. And it most certainly finds those close to you in a family sense, or professionally.

To the reporters out there looking to make their mark, there’s figurative gold in tracing the “family trees” of politicians. Better yet, the search for these trees would have a bipartisan quality to it. Just look up any long-serving GOP senator or congressman, and you can be reasonably assured that you’ll find well-paid family members, friends, and ex staffers connected to the “Big Guy.” Yes, it’s all about the money in Washington too despite the protests about “public service.”

It’s something to think about with term limits top of mind. If politicians really care about serving the United States, they should not just support legislative or legal efforts to limit their time in Washington, they should go on record as explicitly supporting endpoints to their time in office. The simple truth is that the longer they stay, the more difficult it is to leave. And it’s more difficult to leave because the livelihoods of more and more people are rooted in the staying.

Term limits would logically bring about better legislative outcomes while those serving, serve. Think about it. If in politics and if aware that you’ll have to eventually live and work under the laws you’ve had a hand in creating, the incentive will be better lawmaking, or better yet, very little lawmaking.

All of which brings us to the much more important reason for term limits: they shrink the ability of politicians to maximize their ability to thrive within Washington. Joe Biden looms large here, as would Mitch McConnell or any other long-serving political type. The longer one serves in Washington, the more skilled that person is at moving the trillions of dollars in Washington’s control. And the more skillful politicians are at the latter, the more quickly that money finds them and those close to them.

In short, the more time politicians spend in Washington the more that they become adept at the lawmaking and the “log rolling” that give political Washington its life. Put another way, term limited politicians are less effective politicians, and less effective political activity redounds to those not in politics.

The simple truth ignored by members of the political class is that they’re not needed. While the federal government was created to protect our rights to live as we want, it’s become a $6 trillion behemoth that, if we’re realistic, protects the present and future of politicians at the expense of our rights. By limiting time spent in Washington, we limit the burden of Washington. Politicians who truly care about the other 99.99% should see this truth, and embrace efforts to fix it.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, President of the Parkview Institute, a senior fellow at the Market Institute, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors ( His latest book is The Money Confusion: How Illiteracy About Currencies and Inflation Sets the Stage For the Crypto Revolution.

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