Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Line item veto

House and Senate Republicans are advancing legislation that would establish some sort of quasi-line item veto, empowering the President to identify targeted tax and spending provisions and propose their rescission. Congress would vote yes or no on the package as a whole.

The motivation appears to be providing a fig leaf for the Republicans because they are rejecting Democratic calls to restore the pay-as-you-go rules that, for a while, were actually fairly effective. (They ceased being so when Congress started playing ridiculous games with them, such as calling the need to pay for the 2000 census an unanticipated "emergency" that was outside of the rules.) Pay as you go they denounce as a secret plot to prevent extension of the tax cuts. Well, if you want to add trillions to the fiscal gap, it figures that a rule impeding fiscal irresponsibility would get in the way.

It's unclear that the line item veto being proposed makes any difference. The up or down vote on the whole package means that Congress can easily reject it if the stench of bad publicity isn't too strong. Indeed, one obvious game to play is to have Bush posture by pretending to strike down a bunch of items, knowing that Congress will restore them anyway. Also, while the Senate bill would have the Joint Committee on Taxation decide which items are "targeted tax benefits" subject to the rules, based on an objective definition, the House bill would include only the items that were identified by the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance chairs, making it entirely a silly exercise as they could exclude whatever they liked. Even if they tried to include everything that meets the definition (and why should they if they are cutting deals), the definition is still absurdly narrow. "Targeted tax benefits" are those with only one beneficiary. So far as I can tell from my source (the June 19 Tax Notes), the Senate bill may have the same absurdly narrow definition of a targeted tax benefit.

Even a more genuine line item veto has ambiguous effects on deficits and fiscal gaps. What it basically does to the legislative process is shift a bit more power to the President. So, if the President wants to use it to attack earmarks and targeted tax rules, it gives him an extra tool. But if the President wants to use it as a bludgeon, to trade for votes in favor of his own tax cut and spending proposals, he can do that as well. Gee, I wonder which way the current President would be more likely to use it.

The House bill has a provision expressing the sense of Congress that the President should not use his rescission authority as a bargaining tool to secure votes on other legislation. Yeah, right.

35 comments:

CMCE Reformer said...

Follow the dominoes and you’ll see that the campaign bribes that went to congressmen to get the pork inserted in the first place, will just be duplicated for the president so the pork is not vetoed when signed. Unless, of course, you are already a political briber of the right persuasion, then it’s a shoo-in.

They say things will have to get much worse before they get better, and the line item veto will clearly make things much worse. It will give voters the false sense that things are being fixed when it is just increasing the cash flow in an already corrupt political system. It is a misconception that ‘bad’ things will get vetoed and ‘good’ things left in. It will be just the opposite.

No, the real answer is to get the private money entirely out of the political system, and that can only be done with full public funding of campaigns. Where was Paul Ryan when US Rep John Tierney (D-MA) needed support for his Clean Money elections bill in the 108th Congress? Probably out raising cash for his re-election.

Congressmen seem not very bright when it comes to math. For $10 per taxpayer per year we could fully fund the federal elections and eliminate the bribery that fuels the annual $300 billion of congressional giveaways to campaign contributors. That’s over $3000 per taxpayer per year, so a $10 investment would be a bargain at 100 times the price.

Or maybe they’re too smart. The current moneyed campaign system ensures politicians a 95% chance of re-election, and they thus like things just as they are. That they must give away $300 billion of taxpayer assets to achieve re-election seems not to bother them.

If I had an employee giving away company assets while taking bribes on the side, I’d have him jailed. We Americans are not very smart. When politicians do this we re-elect them and we don’t even question their allegiances.

We have similar corruption problems at the state level. After six state legislators have gone through various stages of being convicted or serving time in jail or federal prison, our Republican-led legislature still doesn’t get it. They have refused to let campaign reform move forward and even voted down a very sensible ethics reform bill that would have provided the beginnings of a clean political system. Had these simple rules been implemented five years ago, the six politicians would likely be enjoying the outside world and the balance would not have their heads on the chopping block. And these are the people running our state?

There is an old saying that seems appropriate here: “Politicians are like diapers. They should both be changed frequently and for the same reason.” For that reason we’ve developed a new web site to both help challengers and force incumbents to defend their records. Let’s see if they can.

Jack E. Lohman
Founder
www.ThrowTheRascalsOut.org

johnwk said...

Our Line-Item-Veto con artists in Congress!

If you really want to zero in on a number of con artists in Congress, the following article is a wonderful source to identify these charlatans. Senate legislation aims to stop overspending


“New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg flanked by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and other Republican Senators today introduced "Stop Over Spending" Legislation. The SOS package is a series of budget reform measures designed to slow the growth of federal spending and cut entitlements.

Perhaps the most high profile provision in the SOS Act is a Presidential line item veto that would give the President the power to pare back irresponsible spending and shine a spotlight on egregious pork projects. Of course, this only works if the President actually uses the power...but let's assume he will."

So, Sen. Gregg, and Bill Frist would have the American People believe if “line item veto” power were available to the President, it would “slow the growth of federal spending and cut entitlements.”

The truth is, if line item veto were available to the executive branch of government, special interest projects and pork barrel spending favored by the president would prevail over projects and pork disfavored by the president. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, so, let us start from the beginning because understanding our Constitution and the intentions and beliefs under which it was adopted, expose those who are attempting to subjugate the legislative intent of our Constitution.

Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution contains a precise procedure for the president to follow regarding a bill having passed both houses of Congress ''__if he approve, he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated__'' No allowance has been granted to the president by the Constitution to alter a bill to his own liking by striking some parts and leaving others, and returning a bill so amended to the House in which it originated..

Likewise, no provision can be pointed to in our Constitution granting power to Congress to overrule the precise procedure stated in Article 1, Section 7 and vest in the president a power as is now proposed under line item veto legislation.

Madison`s Notes on the Convention of 1787 informs us that only three of the original 13 states allowed their executive to exercise a veto power (Massachusetts, South Carolina and New York), And, in discussing veto power, Benjamin Franklin, on June 4 of the Constitutional Convention, reminds the delegates how veto power had been exercised by royal governors and why the convention should not grant such power to the president:

''The negative of the governor was constantly made use of to extort money. No good law whatever could be passed without a private bargain with him. An increase of salary or some donation, was always made a condition; till at last, it became the regular practice to have orders in his favor on the treasury presented along with the bills to be signed, so that he might actually receive the former before he should sign the latter. When the Indians were scalping the Western people, and notice of it arrived, the concurrence of the governor in the means of self-defense could not be got, until it was agreed that the people were to fight for the security of his property, whilst he was to have no share of the burdens of taxation.''

The Convention finally did reach a compromise, and granted veto power to the president, but only in the limited fashion as detailed in Article 1, Section 7, which preempts the kind of presidential blackmail the innovative line-item veto proposal most assuredly would resurrect.

If the proponents of the line-item veto, such as Sen. Gregg, and Bill Frist want to control reckless spending and borrowing, and encourage Congress to start practicing sound fiscal policy, they ought to be promoting our Founding Father’s plan, and in particular, the founder’s method of extinguishing deficits created by Congress which would make every member of Congress immediately accountable to their State Governor and Legislature should Congress borrow to meet its expenses during the course of a fiscal year!


Under the founders plan, if insufficient revenue was raised by Congress from its normal taxing powers, and Congress borrowed to meet its expenses, Congress was then intended to lay an apportioned tax among the states for the total sum of the deficit created. The deficiency created by Congress’ borrowing is to be raised by apportioning the sum of the deficit among the states in such a manner that each state receives a bill to pay into the federal treasury a share of the total deficit based upon its number of votes in Congress___ representation with proportion obligation.

The Founders intended that those states paying the highest share into the common treasury, would likewise have a proportional vote in determining how their money would be spent! An idea which socialists and the friends of big government dread!

Few people realize the Founding Fathers provided a FAIR SHARE FORMULA in our Constitution to extinguish deficits created by Congress___ a constitutionally mandated fair share formula which our big spenders in Congress and the friends of a big socialist government will do almost anything to avoid!

Under the Founder’s plan there are no loopholes, no manipulation, and, those state congressional delegations with the biggest mouth in Congress, who would dare use their large voting strength to squander federal revenue, create big government or send our money to distant lands through a “United Nations” [a money laundering operation] were to bring home to their State Governor a bill for the largest share of the apportioned tax which the Governor and State Legislature would then be responsible for raising and then depositing into the treasury of the United States.

Picture for a moment the expression on the faces of the Governor of New York and the New York State Legislature, if New York should receive a bill for its apportioned share [29/435] of the 2005 federal deficit. This threat would create a compelling incentive for the Governor of each state, and the various state legislatures, to keep a jealous eye on the spending habits of their Congressional Delegation . . . it would require the fiscal accountability which the state governments once demanded from their Senate and House Members!

For a $20 million direct tax being imposed upon the states in 1861, and the amounts required to be paid by each of the various states, see HERE and use the buttons at the bottom of the page to go forward and backward

Bottom line

We don’t need a line item veto power being exercise by the Executive branch of government which merely allows the president to determine which pork he/she may favor, and may also be used by the president to blackmail the national Legislature to adopt special interest legislation which the president may want.

What we need is for Sen. Frist and Sen. Gregg to abide by the intentions and beliefs under which our Constitution was adopted, especially with regard to extinguishing annual deficits created by Congress’ reckless borrowing which has to date enslaved the future of our nation’s children to the tune of $50 Trillion.

What we need is for Sen. Frist and Sen. Gregg to enforce the apportioned tax among the states to extinguish annual deficits ___ a constitutional rule agreed upon which would make every member of Congress immediately accountable to their state Governor and Legislation who would be left with the responsibility of meeting their state’s obligation in extinguishing the deficit created by Congress.

Regards,

JWK
ACRS

"If the Constitution was ratified under the belief, sedulously propagated on all sides, that such protection was afforded, would it not now be a fraud upon the whole people to give a different construction to its powers?"___ Justice Story

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