Norma Twombley: Wrong branch of government targeted in recent commentary

This commentary is by Norma Twombley of Wheelock, a retired educator, and a seventh- or eighth-generation Vermonter.

A recent VTDigger commentary advocated for limiting terms in the federal legislative branch of government due to the longevity of many members, alleged pork-barrel practices and over-representation by small states like Vermont. 

In sharp contrast, I contend the judicial branch is the federal branch of government in need of term limits. At least senators face their constituents every six years for reelection. 

Supreme Court justices laughingly flout citizens’ rights to personal privacy, the separation of church and state, and the right of municipalities to regulate gun laws. 

If justices had to face approval of the American people after a few years in office, we might not have five people inflicting the following: restrictions on sound medical practice that could result in death,  jail sentences upon women suffering miscarriages, forcing women to birth the results of rape, spending public money for religious education, and contradicting local gun laws.

The U.S. Senate was designed to represent the states, not the population of the nation. Why should states with large populations dictate the needs of small states? 

At present, we are witness to a few House of Representatives extremists holding the national budget hostage. The extremists are trying to convince the American public that the best way to do that is through cutting back on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and any other program that helps the working poor, senior citizens or those who are disabled. 

This rhetoric will no doubt put more money into the pockets of these extremists by the oligarchs who don’t pay their fair share of taxes. What if the entire legislative branch was based on population? Scary!

I don’t have the statistics, but if they were available, I believe Vermont would rank at the top of all the states where senators and representatives don’t accept money from corporations. Welch, Sanders and Balint have proven themselves as honest representatives in state and federal government. Bernie knows that Social Security could easily be made solvent by removing the cap on payroll deductions for Social Security. 

Unfortunately, too many people who “represent” this country are bought and paid for, and the few honest politicians haven’t been able to remove that cap. At present, anyone making more than $160,000 doesn’t pay Social Security tax on any income over the $160,000. I find it extremely unfair that working families pay a much higher percentage of their meager earnings to Social Security than wealthy people do. It’s criminal that a senior citizen with an income of $25,000 has to pay taxes on that small amount of money, while billionaires pay little or nothing at all. 

Until 1984, Social Security was tax-free and should still be totally tax-free. Instead, senior citizens pay taxes on their meager earnings while oligarch-funded politicians allow billionaires to continue to be tax-free. 

In 2010, five Supreme Court justices supported Citizens United on the premise of free speech, which in reality enabled corporations and super-PACs to financially back candidates with total anonymity.

Have Leahy, Sanders and Welch been repeatedly reelected because of the federal funds they have brought into the state? I doubt that premise. I am only vaguely familiar with funding they have brought into the state, but instead I voted for them based on “personal political philosophy,” as probably most Vermonters also did.


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