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Senate Line Item Veto Revisited

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Vaderize03, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. Vaderize03

    Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 25, 1999
    Hello all,

    Well, let's give this another go....I have a very simple question for debate:

    Would the line-item veto break the partisan gridlock in Washington?

    Let me explain:

    Looking at the debt-ceiling fight, the recent fiscal-cliff showdown, and the looming budgetary confrontations on the near-horizon, I think that the existence of a line-item veto could help avert the dig-in-your-heels, "hell-no" paralysis that has come to define the US Congress, especially in the House.

    If the President had this authority, the House could pass a budget, the Tea Party could throw in amendments, the Senate could modify it, the conference committee could iron it out, and, assuming it got through the legislature, it could land in the Oval Office where the President could alter it as he saw fit. In doing so, members of Congress would have the ability to address specific issues important to their constituents, giving them political cover back home while allowing the Chief Executive to strike out anything he/she disagreed with.

    I think if this current setup existed, we would be a lot more likely to have a budget. The House, for example, could put the Medicare voucher plan into it, and even if it passed and survived the legislative process, Obama could still strike it down, claiming he "saved Medicare" while the Tea Party Republicans claimed they tried to do the same (from their respective points of view, of course).

    It seems like a win-win.....the Supreme Court notwithstanding.

    Thoughts? Note: Mod-approved thread.

    Peace,

    V-03
     
  2. Bazinga'd

    Bazinga'd The Man / Also Known as Bazinga'd star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2012
    The question for me is whether or not the line item veto is constitutional. I am not sure it is based on a separation of powers doctrine, which is exacerbated when used to eliminate budget items.
     
  3. Point Given

    Point Given Mod of Literature and Community star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Dec 12, 2006
    It's not. The Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1997

    Anyway, in my opinion, all that would happen is that would it become a controversial weapon ala the filibuster, in which either party will attempt to do away with it when the other is in power, but abuse it once they get to the top.



    I'm curious as to what would happen after Obama would strike such provision from that bill. Congress gets another crack at it to pass it over his veto. Could they pass that particular provision as it's own separate bill, or could they hold up the entire bill until they get a vote on that provision?
     
  4. Bazinga'd

    Bazinga'd The Man / Also Known as Bazinga'd star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Correct. Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S.417 (1998) FYI, the original case decided in 1997, was Raines v. Byrd,521 U.S 811 (1997) which did not reach the merits of the case as it dealt with a particularly nasty standing issue.

    In any event, Not all legal scholars agree with the majority's reasoning in Clinton. I would guess that as SCOTUS is currently composed, I think they would reach the same result as Clinton.
     
  5. Mr44

    Mr44 VIP star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    May 21, 2002
    V, I'd agree with the thoughts posted so far. Even setting aside the Constitutional issue, I think it's something that would be only "win-win" as long as the side that whoever believes in was using it, but then when the opposite side did so, it would suddenly become the worst thing since Jersey Shore.. What makes it a winner in your mind?
     
  6. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    Registered:
    Nov 28, 2000
    For me, the discussion begins and ends at constitutionality -- and the court had a very good reason for considering it unconstitutional. Even were that to somehow change, it would be a very bad idea with a huge potential for abuse. People seem to love the idea of using a line item veto to cut out earmarks and the like, but what about a line item veto that killed revenue enhancements in a spending bill? What about one that killed spending cuts as part of a tax cutting bill?
     
  7. Jediflyer

    Jediflyer Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 5, 2001
    I think it would have just the opposite effect. Members of Congress would have no incentive to compromise if they knew the president could simply veto their input. Any negotiation by the party out of the white house would necessarily be a lose-lose issue. They would lose first by giving up some items in a compromise and would lose again when the president lopped off any gains through the use of the line-item veto.

    Besides, its plainly unconstitutional.
     
  8. Vaderize03

    Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 25, 1999
    Because it would be better than the current dysfunctionality, Mr44.

    At least Congress would be willing to pass bills, even if they got chopped up in the Oval Office; I mean this in the sense that politicians could vote their conscious and still be able to face their constituents even if what they supported got inked out.

    Currently, things die in the legislature to give political cover. If someone attached something to a bill that made it to the president's desk and he knocked it off, at least some parts of the legislation passed, those who lost can say that they tried (and rally their troops for the next time), and the gridlock is to an extent broken.

    Right now, some who can't get all that they want prefer to get none; the line-item veto might be a way out of this.

    Peace,

    V-03
     
  9. Bazinga'd

    Bazinga'd The Man / Also Known as Bazinga'd star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Nothing of what I said above indicates I would support a line-item veto. I generally agree with Grand Admiral Jello and Jedi flyer views. All I was saying is that there are arguments supporting the line-item veto, which currently are the minority view. Even if the president had the line item-veto, it would not extricate us from the current political and fiscal mess that exists in DC these days.
     
  10. Mr44

    Mr44 VIP star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    May 21, 2002
    I don't know V, I still think Flyer's result would be more likely in that it would actually take away any incentive to negotiate. I suppose hypothetically it could be used to chop special interests, but only if the executive wasn't beholden to the same ones as Congress. Of course, the potential for a "lobby" war would be great.
     
  11. Kimball_Kinnison

    Kimball_Kinnison Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 28, 2001
    I would have to agree with this.

    Think of it this way, let's say that it takes 51% to pass a bill, but 67% to override a veto (line item or otherwise). If you get a compromise with 51%, but then one side (whoever controls the White House) can unilaterally chop parts of it off, then you won't really have a compromise. You could offer whatever you wanted to the other side, as long as they agreed to what you wanted, and then get the President to simply edit out the concessions you made. There would be no reason at all for the side not in the White House to compromise.

    To treat the issue as providing "political cover" is to miss the point. It would radically shift the balance of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches, and would only serve to poison future negotiations, especially in a climate like the current one. The only reason it was able to get through in the 90s was because both houses of Congress were controlled by one party, and the White House by the other. It would be absolutely paralyzing in a situation like today, where one party controls the House and the other controls the Senate.
     
  12. beezel26

    beezel26 Jedi Master star 7

    Registered:
    May 11, 2003
    and yet everyone seems to forget we need the line item veto to stop pork barrel spending. Maybe we need a bill that prevents pork barrel from coming onto a bill.
     
  13. Lowbacca_1977

    Lowbacca_1977 Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 28, 2006
    How would you distinguish between pork barrel spending and regular project spending, then?
     
  14. Juliet316

    Juliet316 SFTC March Tiemaster star 10

    Registered:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Look at the recent 'Fiscal Cliff' deal. You can tell pork barrel from regular quite easily in that one.
     
  15. Rogue_Follower

    Rogue_Follower Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Nov 12, 2003
    Here's the problem with the idea that the line item veto is our only hope against unnecessary spending: you can't guarantee that the line item veto will only be used on pork. Or that it even will be used against pork. Or that it will be used fairly. Et cetera.

    No. If citizens want to stop Congress from adding pork and ridiculous riders, they should demand that Congress not add those things in the first place. Not ask the President to "fix" the bill after the fact.
     
  16. VadersLaMent

    VadersLaMent Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Apr 3, 2002
    Line Item Veto = what you want when your Prez of choice is in office.
     
    DarthBoba and Vaderize03 like this.
  17. Lowbacca_1977

    Lowbacca_1977 Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 28, 2006
    My point is more that he wants a bill to stop it. How do you define it in such a way that the bill would define between which bits of spending are pork barrel spending and which ones aren't? For any bill to have any meaning, that has to be a part of it.
     
  18. GrandAdmiralJello

    GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin ❉ Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque star 10 Staff Member Administrator

    Registered:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Moreover, how will that bill do... anything? Any Act of Congress can be superseded by a subsequent Act of Congress, unless it is a Constitutional Amendment.
     
  19. Jabba-wocky

    Jabba-wocky Chosen One star 9

    Registered:
    May 4, 2003
    This whole thing is especially stupid in light of the fact that since the opening of the first Congress of the Obama Presidency, earmarks haven't even been allowed to begin with. If the typical proposal is that this will limit "pork barrel spending" your addressing a problem that doesn't even exist anymore.