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The Relationship between Congressional Spending and Tenure with an Application to Term Limits.



Whether term limits would increase or decrease federal spending depends on the reason for the causal relationship between tenure and spending. The authors investigate this subject by empirically studying congressional spending and tenure for all United States House and Senate members who entered Congress between the 94th and 102nd Congresses (1975-92). As their measure of congressional spending the authors use the National Taxpayers Union's Congressional Spending Scores. Their study finds that a statistically significant relationship exists between congressional spending and tenure for some groups of congressmen. The authors then test three hypotheses relating tenure and spending. No single hypothesis is consistent with all of their empirical results. Nevertheless, the small sizes of the empirical effects estimated in this study suggest that term limits would have an inconsequential impact on the level of federal spending--at least via the 'moral hazard' mechanisms described in this paper. Copyright 1998 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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