Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bush presses Congress for expanded veto power

And, just as I posted smart politics, now I have to counterbalance with some scary shit. Bush wants to revive the line-item veto, which has already been ruled unconstitutional. I think someone should remind him that he's already allowed to veto bills that contain spending that he thinks is excessive. I honestly cannot think of any possible reason the administration would want this except to selectively target Democratic earmarks to omnibus bills. I do have to say, though, that I loved this portion of the debate:

"You control all mechanisms of spending. You control the House, you control the Senate, you control the presidency and you need help before you spend again. What is this, Comedy Central? What is it you're doing here?" raged Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez.

Uggggh. Let's just hope cooler heads prevail, and he doesn't get total control of the government, like he seems hell-bent on doing. Thanks for voting this clown in again, America.

WASHINGTON, June 27 (Reuters) - President George W. Bush prodded the U.S. Senate on Tuesday to pass a bill that would bolster his power to propose the rejection of spending items he considers wasteful.

Bush, who has presided over a surge in budget deficits following the surpluses of the Clinton administration, said that by granting him a line-item veto, Congress would be taking a big step toward improving the nation's fiscal health.

"A line-item veto would be a vital tool that a president could use to target spending that lawmakers tack onto the large spending bills," Bush said in a speech to the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank.

The House of Representatives last week approved the line-item veto bill by a strong margin but it faces an uncertain outlook in the Senate.

The language in the bill is a modified version of a 1990s measure that gave the president the authority to cancel outright certain items in spending bills. That version was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

The revised proposal would allow Bush to single out spending items he thinks should be deleted and then send the proposals back to lawmakers for a vote.

Bush called the veto bill a "crucial test" for lawmakers on fiscal discipline. In addition to the speech, he also met with a group of senators at the White House to discuss the measure.

So-called budget earmarks -- money set aside by lawmakers for specific projects -- have been a focus of controversy this year amid scandals involving lobbyists who have won special-interests favors in spending bills.

"The other thing the line-item veto will do is it will shine the light of day on spending items that get passed in the dark of the night," Bush said. "It will send a healthy signal to the people that we're going to be wise about how we spend their money."

Some Democrats have criticized Bush's call for a line-item veto, pointing out that he has never vetoed a bill during his 5-1/2 years in office.

Democrats also lay a big part of the blame for the budget deficits on Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. A number of conservative Republicans are upset over the run-up in spending on Bush's watch.

The U.S. government had a $128 billion budget surplus in 2001, according to figures from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. CBO projects the deficit will come in at around $300 billion in fiscal 2006 compared to a shortfall of $318 billion in 2005.

Federal spending has surged to more than $2.7 trillion this year from about $1.9 trillion when the president took office.

Amid the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military has accounted for a major portion of the increased spending. Bush earlier this year proposed allocating nearly a half-trillion for the Pentagon in fiscal 2007.

But Bush said he had no regrets about the rise in military spending and added that cutting that budget would amount to "shortchanging" U.S. soldiers in harm's way.

Posted by crimnos @ 9:59 AM