When the House passed the Line Item Veto legislation, in a strong bipartisan vote of 294-134, it took great
strides toward assuring the American people that the purpose of government is to serve the needs of all
Americans. It also indicated its intention to seriously address the budgetary problems created by forty
years of elitist pork barrel arrogance by the majority party in Congress. Congressional approval will also
take away a sinister political weapon, designed to distort the images presented to the people. Without the
Line Item Veto the President was forced to either accept or reject any legislative proposal as it was written.
Congress learned the trick of tacking on extra money for special projects, ones that usually helped fellow
Representatives or Senators get reelected. In more blatant times they have actually increased
Congressional salaries. In the article one example is cited by Rep. Joe Knollenberg of Michigan. Added to
a bill to provide California !
earthquake relief last year was $10 Million for a train station in New York and funds for sugar cane
growers in Hawaii. The public is seldom aware of this “extra” spending. Without the Line Item Veto the
President must either sign or veto the bill with the pork attached. This ploy thus becomes a political
weapon. If the President vetoes it his opponents can accuse him of not wanting to help Americans in
need.
U.S. Presidents since Ulysses S. Grant have all called for the Line Item Veto. In the article the new
Speaker of The House was quoted as saying “President after president has said it was something that
would be good for America because it would allow the president to cut out some of the worst in spending.”
Opposition to the Line Item Veto argues it would tip the balance of power too heavily toward the White
House. Another point postulated by those concerned suggest the President could use this power to favor
one politician over another by selective use in lining out budget busting features of a given piece of
legislation. This action, I feel, would stir such wrath of the American voter, no President would be willing
to risk it. On the other hand, a weak president could use the Line Item Veto to cut spending and gain favor
with the voters. Without the Line Item Veto the American taxpayer will be subject to a Congress more
concerned with reelection than in serving the needs of the country. It is currently a system rife with
corruption.
The problem, as I perceive it, and I must admit there was no hint of it in the article I read in the Southern
Illinoisan, is the nature of humanity. I contend human nature is such that is impossible to have that many
people that close to power and in control of that much money for that long a period of time without having
some form of corruption.
All the values that make up the culture of America are at stake here and the camps of special interest on the
subject break down to two: the American people and elected officials. The founding fathers would be
repulsed that an issue like this would even be necessary. I’m certain they never envisioned a Congress with
such a leaning toward their own special interest.
Solutions are simple, pass the Line Item Veto or allow the current system to assist in driving the country
into bankruptcy.
Obviously the first solution is the one preferred and, with the recent turnover in Congress, we are going in
that direction. Representative Bill Baker of California was quoted as saying, “This week, we’re going to
give the president, whoever the president is, the tools to help balance the budget.”