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Even more on line-item hokum

By Jonathan Bernstein

Over at Capitol Gaines and Games, Pete Davis has an excellent post giving reasons why the line-item veto proposal is a bad idea (see also Stan Collender's post). Not only is he more concise than I am, but his list includes one reason I missed yesterday. As Davis says, enhanced rescission "[w]ould substitute White House pork for congressional pork -- [u]nless you have worked in the right places in Washington, you rarely see how much White House pork moves into bills before Congress."

Good point! Granted, unlike most people in this discussion I'm not really against pork of either the presidential or congressional variety, but presumably those who support this scheme do oppose pork.

As Davis says, "Bottom line: On deficit reduction, you can't legislate political backbone." You can, however, weaken Congress and centralize power in the White House, and that's what this is really about. Well, that, and the illusion of action. If that's all the president wants (and with unemployment high, I think there's a strong case to be made for it), then he should stick to toothless commissions.

Jonathan Bernstein blogs about American politics, political institutions, and democracy at A Plain Blog About Politics, and you can follow him on Twitter here.

By Washington Post editor  |  May 26, 2010; 2:32 PM ET
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It seems like it would also give Congress license to add more pork, knowing that there is another layer of procedure to prevent it from being enacted.

Posted by: jduptonma | May 26, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I have no trouble with a line item that could be used once on a bill. Then the bill goes back before congress, and line items could be added back in, and on the return trip the president has to approve or veto it all. One line item veto opportunity per bill, but a line item veto returns the bill for one more pass through congress, just like a regular veto would, but perhaps it only takes a simple majority to get line items added back in.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | May 26, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

"Then the bill goes back before congress, and line items could be added back in, and on the return trip the president has to approve or veto it all."

A pointless time-wasting exercise and an obvious violation of the separation of powers. The executive has the option to sign or veto any bill, he or she should not also enjoy any right to edit the work product of the legislative process.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 27, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

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