I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Line Item Veto?

ABC News is covering the up and coming story about how George W. Bush is proposing legislation to grant the President the line item veto. This is a big question and this particular coin has three sides as I see it. The first - and what should be the only real question - is whether or not such a law would pass constitutional muster. The second if the "feel good" question of American opinion and the last concerns the political ramifications.

First off, is it constitutional? When Bill Clinton got the line item veto back in the 90's, the Supremes got together and shut it down. Poliblogger points out that Justice Stevens took a decidedly dim view of the idea.

Such line-item vetoes are “the functional equivalent of partial repeals of acts of Congress,” he said. But “there is no provision in the Constitution that authorizes the president to enact, to amend or to repeal statutes,” he added.


In his opinion, Stevens said Congress could alter the president’s role in determining the final text of a law only by constitutional amendment.

However, as Qando notes, this version is at least slightly different and may not be quite so clearly unconstitutional.
Instead, Bush is proposing that he be allowed to send Congress proposals to strike earmarks from spending bills and special interest tax breaks and that Congress be required to bring them to a vote. Constitutional scholars say this version should pass muster with the Supreme Court.
It still sounds to me like it gives the President legislative power to edit the legislature, and I find it hard to believe that any SCOTUS would approve it.

On to the "feel good" portion. Everyone claims to hate pork. Of course, their objections seem to grow a good bit softer when the pork is heading for their own troughs. Giving the President the power to cut pork out of the budget is something that will give a lot of true, economic conservatives reason to cheer. But, much like the hangover that comes on the day after the big office party, many of the move's supporters may have to give a lot of second thought to how they will view it if the person with the veto pen isn't on their side.

This brings us to the politics. Bush is a lame duck. The way the polls are going, it's highly unlikely that the next President will be a Republican. There's also the possibility that the Dems may take over one or both houses of Congress this year and take control of the purse. Do the Republicans really want to push through legislation which may, in only a few years, give a sitting President the power to slice out their share of the pork train while leaving the earmarks of their opponents in place? Because you know that's how it's going to play out. Everyone loves to talk about cutting down on wasteful spending, but we live in decidely split country. A president of one party is going to start by cutting the pork of the opposition party, and you know it.

I don't think you're going to see any folks in Congress who aren't totally wearing blinders voting for this. It may be fun today for the Republicans, but the party could come to a crashing halt in a very short time.

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