Paul Jacob

Michigan has hit the jackpot when it comes to dumb sayings about term limits by lobbyists who hate term limits.

Sure, all anti-term-limit lobbyists tend to say the same dumb things about term limits--whether pining for the ancien legislative régime of Oklahoma or of Arkansas or of California.

But Michigan lobbyists are particularly good at the dumb sayings. Or at least their dumb sayings are particularly well reported by the press. My clippings of these, if stacked one on top of the other, would rise higher than the federal deficit if you stacked the federal deficit using blow-dried one-dollar bills.

In 1998, a Detroit paper reported that some legislators being kicked out of the Michigan House were ending up in the Michigan Senate. Lobbyist Bill Rustem complained that if the goal of term limits was "fresh faces, it didn't work."

A few years later, this same Rustem was telling reporters that Michigan was careening toward a "time of incredible uncertainty where it's difficult to predict what will happen when you lose the experience and institutional memory" of various elected officials. Uh oh. So now, too many fresh faces, huh?

In 2002, a lobbyist for the Michigan Education Association named Al Short announced that thanks to term limits, "skilled lobbyists...have far more power than ever before." So, term limits: bad. And how very public-spirited of Mr. Short, so eager to give back all that new power he's gotten as a result of term limits! Just like all the other 80 percent-plus of lobbyists who oppose term limits.

Another Michigan lobbyist quoted in the same story, Richard Cole with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and a leader of one of those periodic efforts to repeal term limits that occur every year or two in states with term limits, opined that the legislature had been weakened by the term limits law insofar as many of the new legislators take "four years to figure out where the men's room is." Why do I suspect that what Mr. Cole really meant was: "The new legislators don't jump fast enough when I snap my fingers!"?

Some Michigan lobbyists don't like it when advocates of term limits oppose the opposition of lobbyists to term limits. A few such lobbyists have even assumed the dour garb of ministers of speech.

Last year, Blue Cross of Michigan got miffed when radio ads sponsored by a term limits organization advised voters that Blue Cross was working to kill the state's legislative term limits. Leaping into action, Blue Cross representatives called radio stations to urge them not to air the ads. They then faxed an "Advisory to Station Managers" asking them to "consider refusing to run this ad."


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.