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Line Item Talking Points

Today a measure was passed to give the president a ‘line item veto’. This of course confuses me, and it may you as well, considering that the Supreme Court struck down a similar measure when Clinton was in office. So why did they waste more of our money repeating the process again when they’ve been shown that it isn’t constitutional? Well, the answer comes into play every couple of years in the US.

Election fodder. Yes, that’s the reason. The house republicans feel that their bill is different than the one struck down, it only allows the veto to be overridden by a simple majority of the house. A simple majority. I may be wrong here, but if the bill gets to his desk to begin with, didn’t they ALREADY vote a simple majority for the measure?

You would think that type of logic would come into play, but it doesn’t. The thought is that by having this line item veto the president could then just highlight the areas of the budget that are a problem to him and send that one back to be voted on again, hoping that the threat of having to vote for a single item in the budget would cause some to change their vote because they don’t want to have to run as they guy who supported ‘insert wedge issue at hand here’.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think that people should have to stand on what they vote for. Especially when it comes to pork and waste. But there are two problems I have with the bill.

First of all, I still think it is unconstitutional for the same reasons that it was the last time. Why not try to amend the constitution to allow it if you want to achieve that? Simply bypassing the constitution to achieve your political goals is a failing of both parties. But the simple fact is that if you believe the ability should be provided do it the proper way.

Second of all, are we really working to give this power to the president, the one who has never had the guts to veto a single bill during his whole administration? Maybe try vetoing one of these budgets en masse first before calling for a line item veto as your only method of ending pork barrel spending. If Bush was really interested in doing that he could simply veto the bill, point out the single line that is causing his vetoing of it and make it clear that until that one aspect of the budget is changed or removed he will continue vetoing it and let the public decide who is right or wrong.

But no, not this president. He doesn’t have the political will apparently. Which is surprising to me, considering he nearly destroyed his own presidency on fighting the war in Iraq (an action I supported) while tiptoeing and waltzing around each and every potential land mine that his administration may encounter domestically. Except the persecution of Americans based on flawed religious dogma.

Unfortunately, we can only conclude that the whole point of giving the president the power to use the line item veto is to provide political talking points for the next presidential or congressional election cycle. Not about stopping pork. Not about doing what is right by the American people. Not about ensuring that funds that are stolen at gunpoint from the American people is spent wisely.

No, it’s just politics as usual in the beltway. We are just a means of obtaining and keeping power by the overlords of our every waking thought.

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