Representative Mark Sanford says: “Musical chairs is a great children’s game, but not one that I would recommend for committee chairmen.” Washington politicians often act like children and they’re doing it again when it comes to term limits for committee chairmen. Like spoiled brats they’re refusing to share power.
When Republicans took over the Congress in 1994 they promised to shake up the corrupt fiefdoms of powerful committee chairman and share the power through term limits. Those term limits on committee chairs were the most important reform they made. Now that the limits are coming up, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert announced that chairmen can simply swap committees so that the same small clique-averaging over 20 years in Washington-can keep their stranglehold on power. Self-limiter Matt Salmon of Arizona called Hastert’s decision “slight of hand” and Joe Scarborough of Florida said, “This absolutely subverts the spirit of the term-limit rule we voted for in 1994. A lot of things have apparently changed around here since then-and not for the better.”
The House Republican leadership has found a way to thwart their own most trumpeted reform by playing musical chairs, so that power can be hoarded in the hands of a few career politicians. In so doing, they’ve once again become the very enemy that they claimed they would run out of town.
This game of musical chairs isn’t over. The Republicans have a very slim majority. Come the 2000 elections, Republicans may find the music has stopped and they’re short a seat.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.