One Toke Over the Line-Item


Congress has approved the line-item veto, which grants the President the ability to delete wasteful or unnecessary items from spending bills. A stronger version of the veto, passed in 1996 as part of Republicans' Contract with America, was later struck down by the Supreme Court concluding "the procedures authorized by the line-item veto act are not authorized by the Constitution." Under the new, watered-down version it would take a simple majority in both the House and the Senate to approve the items over the president's objections.

Back in October, Veronique de Rugy and Nick Gillespe rebuffed Bush for showing no leadership on spending reform, all with a halcyon grin and plenty of talk about limited government. De Rugy followed with a remedial math lesson for the President (… The FY2007 budget will supposedly save taxpayers from $14.5 billion in wasteful programs, but this represents just 0.5 percent of the $2.77 trillion budget. Prey tell me, how does that equal fiscal dicipline?) and Gillespie likened GWB to another triple-initialed big spender.

Sure, the $27 billion of wasteful spending that could be prevented each year by a line-item veto is a start, but total discretionary spending is up 35.8 percent in the first five years of the Bush administration. That's more than any other president's pushed for, or consented to, in recent history [.PDF].

The line-item veto is a step in the right direction, but certainly not the be-all-end-all of fiscal discipline.