By Gary P Jackson
One of the many reforms that are needed in Congress, is a law forbidding these public servants from abandoning their high paying jobs, while seeking another. Try that in the real world and you’ll be jobless in nothing flat!
We all understand an elected official taking time to run for re-election, though an incumbent rarely abandons their job to do it. They work on re-election activities on weekends and during official breaks, for the most part. But when they run for a new job, they sometimes forget about the old one.
There is a hell of a lot wrong with Todd Akin, besides the idiotic comments he made about “legitimate rape” and the magic uterus, but that is bad enough to make him toxic to the Republican Party and the pro-life movement that we all care about.
That said, when you get down to it, the news that he basically abandoned his job as a United States Congressman, in order to get a new job as a United States Senator, is more egregious. More troubling, to me.
In fact, over the past 12 years in Congress, Akin has been one of the worst offenders. His missed votes over the years have put him in the top 20% of MIA congresscritters.
Akin isn’t the first political lifer to do this. Our current president abandoned his brand new job as Senator almost as soon as he was sworn in, in order to run for president, something he promised the people of Illinois he wouldn’t do.
Of course, Obama, like so many before him, was rewarded for his betrayal, with a new, more powerful, job.
And that’s the problem.
Most voters don’t even pay attention to the way their particular representatives vote. They certainly have no idea when these members of Congress abandon their responsibilities altogether.
I’m not picking on Akin here, just because I think he’s a disaster. I’ve long held that politicians should be restricted from running for one office while holding another. Especially members of Congress.
I’m not 100% sold on term limits as the best answer, though I’m not sold at all on leaving things as they are. I’d like to see limits, and a rule that only allows, say a Congressman …. who wants to run for the Senate …. to do it in their final year in office, or resign from office first.
We pay our members of Congress quite well. The very least we can expect is they show up and participate in the job we hired them to do.
Louisiana Republican Congressman Charles Boustany has introduced a bill in the House that would hold these MIA representatives accountable. It’s a good first start.
From MissouriWatchdog.org: [emphasis mine]
ST. LOUIS — An examination of voting records shows that eight of the 11 members of Missouri’s congressional delegation miss more votes than their peers — and that U.S. Rep. Todd Akin has missed 85 percent of the House votes this quarter.
Akin, a Republican, has failed to cast 4.6 percent of the votes during his 12 years in the House, ranking the U.S. Senate candidate near the top 20 percent of the most absent members of Congress.
But U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, a Democrat, is the Missourian on Capitol Hill who tops the list, with 7.1 percent of votes missed since 2001.
That puts Clay in the top 8 percent for all members of Congress, according to Josh Tauberer, who crunches the numbers on congressional votes at GovTrack.us.
Akin’s opponent, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill, has missed 2.5 percent of the votes, just above the median of 2.4 percent.
Missed vote percentages for the rest include:
Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt – 5.7 percent
Republican U.S. Rep. Sam Graves – 4.4 percent
Democrat U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver – 3.4 percent
Republican U.S. Rep. Billy Long – 3.4 percent
Republican U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson – 3.2 percent
Democrat U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan – 2.2 percent
Republican U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler – 1.7 percent
Republican U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer – 0.9 percent
Akin has been largely missing from Washington, D.C., this year while on the campaign trail for the contentious Republican primaryearlier this month.
He missed 21 percent of votes in the first quarter of 2012 and 16 percent of votes in the second quarter, before missing 89 of 105 House votes this summer.
His spokesman, Ryan Hite, failed to respond to a request for comment from Missouri Watchdog.
Representatives for Clay also could not be reached Thursday.
Although he hasn’t closely examined the data, Tauberer is pretty sure incumbents running for re-election or a new office, as Akin is doing, tend to miss more votes than their peers.
“It’s definitely a trend, especially presidential candidates — they will drop off the map,” he said.
Tauberer said quarterly spikes are not that uncommon, and they occur for various reasons, such as illness.
“There often are legitimate reasons that happens to people, and maybe campaigning is a legitimate reason,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, a Louisiana Republican, disagrees.
In July he introduced H.R. 6085, known as the “No Show, No Pay” act, which would dock a day’s pay for any of his colleagues in Congress who miss a single vote held on a given day.
“They habitually miss important votes on key policy initiatives and legislation by leaving early or arriving late in order to attend fundraising and campaign events,” Boustany said. “This bill discourages these offenders from dodging their Constitutional duty by holding them accountable to their constituency.
A congressional committee is discussing the bill.
As voters we must continually remind our representatives they work for us, and we have some minimum requirements, like actually showing up for work, if they want to remain in our employ.
The American voter has been too complacent, and I include myself among them. For too long we have been so busy with our own lives and our own priorities, that we have allowed government to run amok. We’ve allowed corruption to thrive, and defective politicians to not only stay, but advance, and become even more powerful.
We can no longer let this be the case. It is the duty of the American people to watch these politicians, and start weeding these inferior people out. It’s the only way our nation will survive.
I applaud Congressman Boustany’s efforts, and hope our readers will contact their elected representatives and ask them to support these efforts as well.