Third Party & Independents Archives

June 24, 2006

Legalizing Political Corruption: Line Item Veto!

Incumbents on both sides of the aisle are lining up behind the next titanic piece of legislation to corrupt our government and politics even further. The legislation is the Line Item Veto. Here is why it will corrupt our system further and why both sides are lining up behind it.

The grain of truth in the bill is that the President can strike unworthy spending from an appropriations bill (spending bill). But, think about it. Because a President can do a thing does not mean a President will do a thing.

Would a Republican President dare strike more than a token of pork spending for those in his own party. Pork spending is what politicians use to get votes for reelection. And by the same token, would a President have any other choice but to use the line item veto against the pork spending of his opponent's party? Thus insuring that the opponent's constituents grow dissatisfied with their representative's performance in bringing federal dollars to their district or state. In a nutshell, spending of the President's party will be "Necessary". Spending of the opposition party will be "Pork" to be cut with the line item veto.

We are witnessing a dangerous shift in the office of President away from representing all of the American people toward representing the interests of only those Americans who support the President and his/her party. The line item veto will greatly speed up this dangerous shift in American leadership. And the political corruption resulting would only compound and increase over time. Whole states will gain or lose federal contracts, FEMA preparation services, education funding, military base spending and relocation, depending on the party of the President whether that state voted for or against the President's party. C'mon, folks, you know how politics works.

Republicans are lining up behind it for obvious reasons. They are in power and the line item veto would help them remain in power by cutting spending for Democratic spending amendments and compromises in the legislation coming before the President. But, why are some Democrats also lining up behind this line item veto? Simple, they believe they will win the Presidency in 2008. And this would serve to give their President the power to retake the Senate and House by the measures I outlined above.

This line item veto, will in the end, not serve the American people. It will only serve the party of the President. If passed, the line item veto cuts will simply make more deficit spending available for the President's party and less for the minority party. Since, all politicians currently use deficit spending to get votes back home, do you really believe the line-item veto will discipline Congress or the President away from spending as a means to hold power?

Quite the opposite will happen. With power comes ever greater excesses of abuse. And when the party in power is called into question over those abuses threatening their hold on power, what will they do to counteract it? They will run straight to the line item veto to target funding for those constituents who are questioning the ruling party the loudest, thereby, diminishing their anti-incumbent power at the polls.

Make no mistake, in the long run, the line item veto will not discipline politicians to spend less. Only anti-incumbent voters can do that. The line item veto will only make unseating incumbents all that much more difficult. How many opposed to a ruling party's policies are going to vote against them if the ruling party is appeasing their dissent with a huge growth in jobs in their district or state. This will just become more of the same. Deficits for votes.

The line item veto was ruled unconstitutional in the 1990's by the Supreme Court. It has been rewritten to possibly pass muster by this new and more conservative Supreme Court which leans toward ever greater power of the Executive Branch of government. The Constitution clearly posits the responsibility for spending in the people's Congress. The line item veto transfers a fair amount of that power to the President. But instead of the President becoming the discipline of the Congress, the President will wield the line item veto for political advantage, and that will not serve the nation's future nor the majority of voters in America.

Posted by David R. Remer at June 24, 2006 04:28 PM
Comments
Comment #161342

David-
Line item veto will be declared unconstitutional because the newest chief justice has declared He would give great weight to “a priori” decisions.
While I appreciate the fact of his lifetime tenure,I can’t believe he would veer so far from the track of his previous statements.
It will be interesting to see just how bought he is.

Posted by: jblym at June 24, 2006 05:29 PM
Comment #161417

The president already could exercise the equivalent of line-item veto (LIV) if he wanted to. All he needs to do is to say to Congress that if any spending bill contains an item that he would veto if he had LIV, he would veto the entire spending bill. Then Congress would be forced to muster enough votes to override the veto or go back and remove the objectionable line items.

Considering that Bush has NEVER vetoed a bill since he’s been in office, I consider it far beyond disingenuous of him to complain about not having the LIV.

As for whether LIV would be ruled unconstituional, I’ll believe it when it happens.

Posted by: Crazy_Joe_Divola at June 24, 2006 08:52 PM
Comment #161426

I oppose it for the reason David laid out. The president was not given this power, he does not need it, and he should exercise the powers already given, and be happy with what he’s got.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 24, 2006 09:12 PM
Comment #161442

And, like I said in Rhinehold’s article a couple of spaces down from this one, Bush already has the line-item veto. It’s called a signing statement, and he has used it to eviscerate laws passed by Congress 754 times…and counting.
No wonder a presidential veto is becoming passe, what with a rubber-stamp legislative branch, a packed judicial branch, and a chief executive running government like a one-man band.

Posted by: Tim Crow at June 24, 2006 09:46 PM
Comment #161448

David,

Great article. I thought that I was in favor of the line item veto. It is so blatantly obvious when you think about it…

Posted by: Ray Guest at June 24, 2006 09:52 PM
Comment #161491

jblym, I’m not so sure about the Justices. It seems to me, we may have the most politically active court on our hands in years.

Posted by: gergle at June 24, 2006 10:49 PM
Comment #161523

David,

Not only can an incumbent President use this to electoral advantage for his party. It would also be used as a backroom hammer to force congressmen to support legislation that they would not otherwise support. For example if a Democratic Senator got any uppity ideas about protecting the Constitution, someone would talk to him quietly in the backroom - a deal would be cut and there would be even more pork. Once there is a democratic President, any uppity Republican Senators that wanted to impose fiscal restraint would be talked to in a similar fashion with the same result. So, it will be a good tool for disciplining Congress - getting them to roll over and play dead that is and allow the Pres to rule like a King - and all of this just when we thought that there wasn’t much more that Bush could do to undermine our Constitutional democratic republic. I see now, he is just rolling up his sleeves and getting started…

Posted by: Ray Guest at June 25, 2006 12:00 AM
Comment #161543

Yes, pork is bi-partisan.

Pork is also in the eye of the beholder.

A new $6 million bridge may bring economic development to an isolated rural area suffering high unemployment.

One can make a case for such spending … in moderation.

But, $350k for hanging flower pots in downtown Chicago?

Or, $4 million for the Museum of the Peanut in Georgia?

To the folks benefitting from the funds these are vital projects. To everyone else, they seem trivial and wasteful.

Perhaps they are.

Better to have a way to remove them than to let them continue unabated.

The problem with libs/lefties is that you can always find fault with any proposal. As if perfection were possible where mortals are concerned.

You just can’t accept that practical may be good enough.

The line-item veto is a proposal that is better than doing nothing at all.

Posted by: Right-of-Way at June 25, 2006 12:40 AM
Comment #161544

Some of you see Bush-Cheney-Rove plots in every single issue.

I don’t suppose pork existed when the Dems controlled Congress for over 40 consecutive years.

It doesn’t really matter anyway… The Senate won’t pass the line item veto.

They think amnesty is just fine, but don’t you dare touch Senator Robert “Sheets” Byrd’s God-given right to bring home the bacon and name another federal facility in West Virginia for himself.

Posted by: Right-of-Way at June 25, 2006 12:47 AM
Comment #161550

Right of Way, what mechanism is inherent to the line item veto that will force Congress to suppress spending? I mean, what is to stop the President’s party from loading up with the deficits that were cut from the line item veto in next year’s budget?

What you don’t see, is that the line item veto does nothing to invoke Congressional discipline in spending. All it does do, is the President the power to reallocate spending for his own party’s preferences.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 25, 2006 01:07 AM
Comment #161552

It is not too late to write your Senators and demand that they vote against the line item veto. Republicans too! If Democrats do win the White House in 2008, the line item veto will give that President the power to entirely UNDO everything the Republican Congress has passed, by vetoing the funding for those items. Do Republicans really want to make it that easy? Without the line item veto, Republicans may still control Congress with a Demcratic President and therefore retain their programs like tax cuts.

Give a Democratic President the line item veto and those laws may remain on the books but, the agencies responsible for enforcing them simply won’t be funded by the President’s line item veto pen. The President can even demand that the appropriations bills be itemized by party sponsorship and veto the bills until they are.

This Gotcha WILL work both ways. It is only a matter of time. And the only real loser in the long run will be the American people.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 25, 2006 01:12 AM
Comment #161558

Right of Way, your comments don’t reflect the true cost of Pork. You see, the cost for 1 million dollar project in Michigan is $49 million worth of pork in the other 49 states. So, don’t be fooled that a some states get better treatment. Fact is, the American tax payer pays 50 times the price for whatever pork their state receives. That is how the pork system works. Would you pay 50 times the real cost for anything knowingly. That is precisely what you are doing in taxes. For every dollar on average that your state or receives in federal pork, 49 other states get their dollar’s worth too, meaning the cost of your 1$ of pork was actually $50.

The line item veto will only shift that $50 cost for 1$ project around to fewer states, primarily those of the President’s party whose electoral votes went to that President. Do you want to see a Democratic President sending your Republican tax dollars to Democratic states pork projects? That is what the line item veto will bring eventually. The tax payers won’t save a thing. Some will just get more pork and others won’t get any at all.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 25, 2006 01:23 AM
Comment #161563

Right-of-Way,

You are correct people like me tend to see a plot in everything the Bush Regime does, but you should join us in opposing this one, because this is just as big of a threat to Republicans agenda as it is to Democrats. There will be no winners here. Prior to reading Davids article here I was in favor of the line item veto because we do need a way to stop pork, but this clearly is not it.

Posted by: Ray Guest at June 25, 2006 01:33 AM
Comment #161565

David, the worst part of this line item veto legislation is that it only requires a simple majority to override it. It’s useless.

The porkiness and record-setting government growth we’re seeing now is solely because of single-party rule. There are no longer any checks or balances in the government.

Elect a Democratic majority in Congress and I guarantee President Bush will look harder for his lost veto pen than he ever did for Saddam’s phantom WMD.

Posted by: American Pundit at June 25, 2006 01:38 AM
Comment #161570

AP, yeah, but will Democrats put a halt to pork spending? Or, even put a huge a dent in it? Unlikely unless they can get the Pay as You GO rules in place. Given the unliklihood of Democrats taking back both houses of Congress, I just don’t see that happening. Best to just boot pork spending incumbents out and put the fear of the voter back into all of them, Democrats and Republicans.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 25, 2006 01:51 AM
Comment #161573

Ray, pat yourself on the back. The Line Item Veto sounded so common sensical to me awhile back too! When I found myself trying to write about it, and thinking it through in terms of its implementation mechanics within a partisan political system, it became obvious that what its proponents were arguing was pure deception and snake oil.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 25, 2006 01:54 AM
Comment #161627

David,

Yes, it does seem to make sense on the surface, but why would I of all people ever - ever trust that the Bush Regime could or would ever do anything good? I can see Republicans like Right-of-Way believing in this - after all - this is their President and they trust him - so it is reasonable for them to think that he has thought this through and has a good plan. If memory serves, I think Clinton wanted the line item veto too and I supported and trusted him… I would be willing to bet that Hillary will support this. She hopes to be President and wants to gather that power unto herself. Power corrupts. If the Republicans are foolish enough to give that power to Hillary, if they are foolish enough to think that some future Democratic President will not use that power to corrupt partisan advantage, if they are foolish enough to forget that the downfall of democracy in Rome occurred when the Roman Senate was rendered powerless - then Katie bar the door - they deserve what they get.

Posted by: Ray Guest at June 25, 2006 11:29 AM
Comment #161697

Y’all don’t get it. Pass or not, this is a political ploy to be used as elections grow near.

Think of the spin this one can create!!

Posted by: womanmarine at June 25, 2006 05:56 PM
Comment #161704

womanmarine, the scary thing is, some dems are lining up with rep’s to actually try and pass this thing. In the Senate, it doesn’t take but a few Dem’s to allow a lockstep Republican bill to pass. This could really become law.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 25, 2006 06:13 PM
Comment #161829

I’d prefer the One-Purpose-Per-BILL Amendment

That’s what Congress should be talking about.

It is truly facsinating how Congress can consistently do everything except what they should be doing.

And why has Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) not been indicted yet for bribery (for the $90K found hidden in his freezer) ? And even if he got convicted, the next Democrat President will give him a pardon, like the 140 felons pardoned by Clinton.

But, on second thought … if it is true that things can’t get better until they get worse, then perhaps we should continue to let our corrupt government run amuck, and continue to re-elect them, and allow the Line-Item-Veto, and let them abuse the hell out of everyone and everything, and hasten the process.

Then, maybe it will actually shorten the time until things get worse … hence finally allowing things to get better ? : ) Eh ?

Maybe when irresponsible incumbent politicians, and voters that keep re-electing, finally feel the pain and misery of their handi-work, only then (maybe) will voters do what they were supposed to be doing all along.

Stop Repeat Offenders.
Don’t Re-Elect Them !

Posted by: d.a.n at June 26, 2006 09:40 AM
Comment #161830

I’d prefer the One-Purpose-Per-BILL Amendment.

You’re right. The Line-Item-Veto is wide-open to abuse.

The One-Purpose-Per-BILL is not, which is why Congress will avoid the One-Purpose-Per-BILL, or anything that would ever reduce their power, opportunities for self-gain, and the security of their incumbency.

That’s what Congress should be talking about.

It is truly facsinating how Congress can consistently do everything except what they should be doing.

And why has Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) not been indicted yet for bribery (for the $90K found hidden in his freezer) ? And even if he got convicted, the next Democrat President will give him a pardon, like the 140 felons pardoned by Clinton.

But, on second thought … if it is true that things can’t get better until they get worse, then perhaps we should continue to let our corrupt government run amuck, and continue to re-elect them, and allow the Line-Item-Veto, and let them abuse the hell out of everyone and everything, and hasten the process.

Then, maybe it will actually shorten the time until things get worse … hence finally allowing things to get better ? : ) Eh ?

Maybe when irresponsible incumbent politicians, and voters that keep re-electing, finally feel the pain and misery of their handi-work, only then (maybe) will voters do what they were supposed to be doing all along.

Stop Repeat Offenders.
Don’t Re-Elect Them !

Posted by: d.a.n at June 26, 2006 09:45 AM
Comment #161831

I have always thought a line-item veto power would be a good thing. One practice I hate more than anything is the out-of-context amendments that get stuck on bills.

I realize this can work for or against things: sometimes it may be an “only way” avenue to either get something enacted or to otherwise table an unwanted piece of legislation. But the practice of sticking otherwise totally unreasonable and otherwise unpassable pork to a bill relating to some other matter completely just infuriates me. If it can’t stand on its own, it shouldn’t stand. A line-item veto power would be a way to get it off there.

However, I do see the cons to this, as well. The only things coming off would be opposing party attachments, allowing even more incentive for “friendly” attachments and the passing of unwanted bills. It may give too much power to the president.

So, in the end, I suppose I have to agree… this would not be good. The checks-and-balances are already falling off the deep end, thanks to king george, and we need to put some back, rather than allow more to be taken away.

Posted by: myles at June 26, 2006 09:50 AM
Comment #161885

myles, the reasoning in your comments is respectable. Most politicians will act responsibly if the voters held responsible at the election polls. The answer to most of America’s problems lies in voting incumbents out of office until the remaining ones and freshman get the message: represent responsibly or be a one term politician. Vote in the nation’s interest first, and political party second, or a politician’s party won’t be able to protect them from your voters demand for results instead of empty promises and excuses.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 26, 2006 02:09 PM
Comment #162004

David Remer:

I have to say that I agree with you. WOW. Anyways your reasoning is correct which ever side (since both seem rather corrupt) would abuse the power. I am for one purpose per bill that is the quickest way to reduce spending. when the public get to see (when it is not hidden in a few thousand page document) what money is being spent on then our elected officials will think twice about trying to get the money.

I say this is an issue that should transend parties and would benefit the people.

Posted by: Randall Jeremiah at June 26, 2006 07:54 PM
Comment #162009

I have to agree with d.a.n. on this one. It would seem that the intent of the line-item-veto is to allow otherwise good legislation to pass, without being forced to accept a bunch of pork (or other attached and unrelated paraphenalia) along with it. I don’t see the potential for abuse being as great as many here have claimed, though. The whole line of “just because a president can do something doesn’t mean he will” cuts both ways.

Still, the one-purpose-per-bill legislation seems to cut through to the heart of the matter much more cleanly than a line-item-veto would. Which of course means, as someone else pointed out, it probably wouldn’t be passed into law.

Posted by: John at June 26, 2006 08:10 PM
Comment #162020

John, consider this. How politically smart would it be for a Democrat to approach the White House with a proposal to see if the President would line item veto it or not? Let’s say it is pork, but would also benefit an otherwise meritorious appropriation for say, HomeLand Security?

If the President’s party is down in the polls, will the President “leak” the request to Congresspersons of his own party to make political hay out of? The temptation to do so would be enormous.

Now, put the shoe on the other foot, and it is a request from a congressperson of the President’s party? As you can see, for purely political and biased reasons, minority party Americans will lose out monumentally more than majority party Americans. Is that how our government was designed and intended to run under the Constitution? Of course not.

Politicians will get responsible about spending as soon as voters get responsible about kicking their asses out of office for being irresponsible. It is that simple. To try anything else is a band aid on a faulty heart valve. It will have no effect in the long run to deal with the underlying and “heart” of the problem.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 26, 2006 08:56 PM
Comment #162067

The President in general doesn’t need more power, especially this power-hungry President, who’s already essentially “line item” vetoing bills he’s actually signing into law behind the veil that he’s looking out for the best interest of the country.
Well said, David, and thanks for the insight.

Posted by: Inside Zebster at June 26, 2006 10:23 PM
Comment #162324

D.A.N.

We live in a society were we will sit and watch a program on tv we don’t like,swimply because the remote is too far away. Asking the average voter to inspect the voting record of imcumbents is like bringing unannouced guests to dinner. Nice idea,but it usually just means more work.

What we truly need is an ironclad guarantee of term limits. The apparent lifetime job guarantees currently enjoyed by a select few are ridiculous. As long as political jobs are so zealously approached by a determined few,we can’t ever expect to get a real representational cross section. I believe that energies would be better directed toward a method of making term limits binding and permanent. In this way,we can at least make sure that any really bad apples are limited to growing only so rotten.

Posted by: jblym at June 27, 2006 03:08 PM
Comment #162326

D.A.N.


See,like above were I was apparently to lazy to remove a w from simply. sorry.

Posted by: jblym at June 27, 2006 03:09 PM
Comment #162540

jblym,

Laziness is definitely a serious problem in the U.S.
We live in an era of selfishness, dependency, ignorance, complacency, and apathy.

Laziness is a natural human trait, but surrendering to it completely is immoral.
Voters can do what ever they want.
It’s completely up to them.
When things get bad enough, when there is sufficient pain and misery, the voters may decide to stop re-electing irresponsible, crooked incumbent politicians. But, will that be soon enough ?

Posted by: d.a.n at June 27, 2006 10:23 PM
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