Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Bush push for line item veto

Today's Washington Post article about the pending line-item veto bill:

Bush complained that many earmarks do not comport with budgetary priorities and result in "unnecessary spending." Often, he said, "earmarks are inserted into bills at the last minute, which leaves no time or little time for debate."

If Congress wanted a solution to this problem, they could change the houses' respective rules to prohibit introduction of unvetted last-minute amendments, right? This is addressed:

[Bush] said this procedure would "shine the light of day on spending items that get passed in the dark of the night," sending "a healthy signal to the people that we're going to be wise about how we spend their money."

It would also create a situation where fiscally abusive congressmen continue to get credit among their targeted constituents for having inserted the earmarks (just as they get credit now for introducing apple-pie bills year after year that are guaranteed to fail) while the President gets to take the fall when he infuriates the same constituents by vetoing the pork provisions. Why would the President expose himself like that? Conversely, if the President does exercise the line-item veto because the admiration they generate for him outweighs the resulting disgruntlement among the would-be beneficiaries of the special spending, then why wouldn't members of Congress rather have that credit directed toward themselves instead of the lower level of credit evoked by the earmarks?

Why can't Congress just learn to control itself? It has the means. It just lacks the will.


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