Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Matt Salmon: Pushing a Pledge Upstream

As part of the Contract with America, many Republican freshmen in the historic class of 1994 agreed to a term limit pledge. An amendment, seeking to “replace career politicians with citizen legislators,” however, was never passed. Today, Matt Salmon prides himself as one of the few members from the class of ’94 to uphold his term limit pledge. But, did he really uphold it?

The proponents of term limits declare that career politicians lose touch with reality and fail to recognize the way in which the laws they pass impact the American people. Citing Madison’s comments in Federalist #62, that representatives would be “called for the most part from pursuits of a private nature and continued in appointment for a short period of office,” they contend that the Founders believed congressional service would be a part-time responsibility, not a life-long career. Washington, they say, changes people, rearranges their priorities.

Which brings us back to the question of Matt Salmon and his dutifully upheld term limit pledge. Matt Salmon told Reason Magazine, in 1999:

“Having served in the state legislature, I got a pretty good taste of how the long-termers tended to vote. Professional politicians–I don’t care whether they are Republican or Democrat–just have a different view of money. When we talk about tax cuts, most legislators say, ‘That is going to cost us so much money.’ And I’m like, ‘Cost us? What are you talking about? It’s their money to begin with.’”

After his stint in Congress however, Matt Salmon didn’t leave Washington—he became further entrenched in the political machine, translating his service in the U.S. House into a lucrative lobbying career. As a representative of various special interests, Matt Salmon no longer took on those in Congress who wished to spend taxpayer money, instead, he told them where they should spend it; hardly the “citizen legislator” the Republican Revolution had in mind.

Now, in his race for Congress, Matt Salmon is asking voters of the Sixth District to send him back. Perhaps his lobbying connections on Capitol Hill are running low. Or, maybe having been back in Arizona for five months, he’s homesick for Washington.

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