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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Feingold and Ryan's line item veto

Russ Feingold and Paul Ryan have teamed up on legislation that would provide a seemingly well defined line-item veto that would allow a President to strike earmarks in budgets passed by Congress. It is both admirable and commendable to see their bipartisan effort to reign in Congress's wild spending ways.

But I still don't like it.

I don't like it for two reasons. First, to me this means Congress is acknowledging that it is unwilling to and incapable of controlling itself and it is willing to cede a little bit of its authority to the executive in order to get their own house in order. I prefer to see Congress and the President trying to balance out one another's powers rather than cede them to each other. Secondly, a full bill veto is difficult to abuse. The line item veto, not so much. It may be possible that this bill is so tight and well written that it is difficult to abuse, but I have a simple rule about underestimating a politician's ability to play the system: I don't do it. And the wild card to all of this is how court decisions may define the use of the line item veto over the years.

I am glad that Ryan and Feingold have been working together to find a way to tighten the purse strings on Congress. I just don't like the result all that much. The line item veto is the expedient route to fix Congress's spending woes, but it is a method that I cringe at the thought of.