Jason Chaffetz

After a week of recess, Congress is back in session today. Today also marks the first day Congress is back in session without Jason Chaffetz. Mr. Chaffetz resigned earlier this year. Why he resigned is the real story.

It wasn’t a scandal, as too often it is when a member of Congress fails to finish his or her term. No, the reason for the resignation: money.

Mr. Chaffetz has come forward with details of a practice of which much of the American public is undoubtedly unaware. As is evidently the practice in both parties, if a Congressman desires to hold a leadership position or a committee chairmanship, he or she must commit to earning a certain dollar amount, a significant amount, of campaign contributions for his or her party.

Granted, the money isn’t coming from the Congressperson’s own pocket, but this could be reasonably interpreted as having the same ethical effect of a pay to play scheme. It prices those who should be leading our Congress – and it is OUR Congress – out of the leadership market. The ones who should be in charge in Washington are those who place a greater emphasis on solving legislative problems than financing future elections so they can stay in power.

I’ve previously written in this space about the need for Congressional term limits. This is exactly why term limits are needed.

Additionally, this practice raises two questions:

Who is making the decision to require this practice? Who is pulling the strings? Why doesn’t Congress prohibit this practice?

Because it’s about retaining power first and working for the taxpayers second.

And that’s backwards.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

Muslim Brotherhood

This week several Arab nations established a blockade against Qatar due to what they claim is Qatar’s funding of terrorism. At issue appears to be Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, an institution which many Arab nations have designated as a terrorist organization.

The Muslim Brotherhood has not received the terrorist designation from the U.S. State Department but does lend its support to organizations, such as Hamas, whom the U.S. does designate as a supporter of terror.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Syria have officially designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a sponsor of terror. (Notably, Qatar and Turkey have not.)

President Obama, on the other hand, chose to support the Muslim Brotherhood during his time in office as a moderate alternative to the more radical ISIS and al Qaeda. The hope was that these so-called moderate Muslims would promote peace and democracy throughout the Middle East.

This strategy failed, and Egypt’s experience proves it. In 2012, Mohamed Morsi, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected Egypt’s president. Later that year, Mr. Morsi declared he had the right to rule without judicial oversight and issued a new Egyptian constitution. In 2013, he was removed from office by military coup. Egypt has experienced violent terrorist attacks in the aftermath believed to be originating from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The risks of the United States designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization are numerous. The group is wide ranging, with political participation in numerous Middle Eastern countries. Designating the entire group as terrorists could affect Muslim participation in the democratic process. The arguments against the terror designation appear to hang on the fact that the entire organization does not promote terror, only a part of it does.

This is the wrong approach. If we, as a global community, are going to defeat terrorists, we have to identify and isolate those organizations who support them. We have to cut off funding to terrorists. It may be uncomfortable and have less than desirable ramifications, but the only way win is to make it a priority.

If any part of an organization is known to support terrorists, that organization must be called out. If the organization wants global recognition, it must purge the terrorists from its ranks.

We’ve failed to do this in the past, and we must start now. It is for this reason the United States should immediately designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign sponsor of terror.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

Congressional Term Limits

There has been a lot of talk these days about “draining the swamp” in Washington D.C. In the spirit of this discussion, and with the acknowledgement that public service should be a time to give back and not a time to get ahead, let me suggest a tool needed to aid the draining process: Congressional Term Limits.

Why are Congressional Term Limits needed?

Let’s look to the 22nd Amendment, which limited the Office of the President to two terms, for a comparison. The Heritage Foundation writes that “following George Washington’s decision to retire after his second elected term, numerous public figures subsequently argued he had established a ‘two-term tradition’ that served as a vital check against any one person, or the presidency as a whole, accumulating too much power.”

And furthermore, “We can safely conclude that those who drafted the amendment sought somehow to prevent the emergence of a President with a tenure as lengthy as (Franklin) Roosevelt’s. Many proponents of the measure further argued that they sought to codify the two-term tradition associated with Washington.”

If the thought behind the 22nd Amendment was to prevent any one person in the Presidential role from accumulating too much power, consider how that compares to our Congressional representatives who sometimes spend decades in office.

According to statistics put together by Sarah Rosier, “The median American citizen saw his or her household net worth decrease from 2004 to 2012 by an annual rate of -0.94 percent, while members of Congress experienced a median annual increase of 1.55 percent…For the first time in history, the majority of America’s elected officials in Washington, D.C. are millionaires.”

This is not to suggest that members of Congress are getting rich off their Congressional seats, although allegations of insider trading have been made. It is to assume, however, that decades in office may provide a level of comfort causing members to lose touch with the reasons they were elected.

At worst, this presents a conflict of interest whereby decisions get made with power in mind instead of the best interests of the country or constituents. Hence, the “swamp”.

Rotating new individuals through Congress on a regular basis, as term limits would require, might encourage an end to the partisan bickering that causes so much gridlock in the Capitol.

At a minimum, term limits would promote an honesty to the law making process that has been lacking in recent decades. New members bring fresh looks at old problems, and a knowledge that their stay in Washington is only temporary will cause a willingness to put the interests of the country over power accumulation.

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

22nd Amendment

http://www.heritage.org/constitution/amendments/22/essays/184/presidential-term-limit

Changes in Net Worth

https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_in_Net_Worth_of_U.S._Senators_and_Representatives_(Personal_Gain_Index)

Insider Trading

http://www.businessinsider.com/congress-insider-trading-investigation-2011-11