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Opinion: Joe Biden is how old? We need an age maximum on the presidency

Joe Biden and Donald Trump are both far past retirement age of 65. The presidential candidacy requires a minimum age, but it is time to consider adding a maximum age

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President Joe Biden holds up an “OK” sign with his right hand while speaking into a microphone.

President Joe Biden will be nearly 82 by the 2024 presidential elections, and former President Donald Trump will be 77. Are these men too old to serve?

Susan Walsh, Associated Press

Article II of the Constitution specifies eligibility requirements for the office of the president, including the individual shall “have attained to the age of thirty-five years.” There are few things that both Democrats and Republicans might agree on, but one of those may be the merit of also providing a constitutionally mandated upper age limit. 

Only 38% still approve of Joe Biden’s performance. Many believe he is too old for the job. Others believe that Donald Trump is unfit for office and would gladly support any measure that would limit his eligibility to run in 2024.

According to a poll conducted earlier this year by ABC News and The Washington Post, 54% of Americans do not believe Biden has the “mental sharpness it takes to serve effectively as president.”  

Perhaps indicative of just how bad things may be, just a few days ago, Biden inadvertently revealed detailed instructions provided by his staff. It began: “YOU enter the Roosevelt room and say hello to participants. YOU take YOUR seat …” Most agree such detailed notes are not normal. 

Being confused and needing a little coaching, though a normal part of aging, may have cataclysmic consequences if the individual holds the power to order a nuclear strike. 

Though of lesser consequence, one wonders how much of our present situation (runaway inflation, unprotected borders, rampant crime, etc.) is due to something more serious than mere differences of political opinion.

Age does not discriminate based on whether there is a D or R by one’s name. All are susceptible to the effects of aging. Fortunately, some seniors remain quite sharp mentally, and may even improve in wisdom and insight. But that is the exception, not the rule. Given the increased likelihood of age-related issues, shouldn’t there be a constitutional age limit for the president?

On Election Day 2024, Biden will be nearly 82. Former President Trump will be 77 years old. Ronald Reagan was 69 at the start of his presidency — 77 when he left office.  

So how old is too old? 

That depends on the individual, but it is noteworthy to consider what the government says about retirement age. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates that pilots retire by age 65. Currently, the full retirement age for Social Security is 66. 

As sensible as an age limit may seem, don’t expect to see one anytime soon. Proposed constitutional amendments must first pass Congress by a two-thirds vote. Like the president, members of Congress are not subject to any mandatory retirement age. The average age of a senator is currently nearly 65 years. Mitt Romney is 75 years old. Mitch McConnell is 80. Dianne Feinstein is the oldest sitting U.S. senator at age 89. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 82.  

The Constitution requires that a senator must be at least 30 years of age. In 1972, 29-year-old Joe Biden was elected to the Senate. He turned 30 just a few weeks later, before he took the oath of office. Though a long shot, many hope that one of the youngest people ever elected to the Senate will be the impetus for adopting an upper age limit not only for the President, but for other members of Congress.   

William R. Titera is a retired auditor and was a partner of a large accounting firm.