Should the President have the power of Line Item Veto?

I think that the President should, simply for the fact that it would eliminate the tremendous pork barrel spending happening in Washington. It would also get ***someone to actually read the damn things!***Pork barrel spending is terrible, it makes bad bills even worse, and can completely kill a good bill. And another thing, is there any real reason, other than specificity, that these bills are written in legalese? Even if the language in a bill is as specific as you can get it, there are still loopholes. Knowing that, I don’t think there’s any point in being specific.

Why would it eliminate pork barrel spending? Why wouldn’t it just cut down on pork barrel spending that the president doesn’t agree with, or that his political enemies added?

And I think they’re written in legalese because they’re laws.

What Lord Feldon said: it would give extra power to the President to use his veto in a punitive way.

As for legalese, not too long ago, in another SD forum, there was a thread about a legal contract (involving paying college tuition) that had a phrase that was poisonously ambiguous. We kicked it around and around, and about half the folks read it one way…and half the other. Legalese is meant to avoid that.

(And, say, Lord Feldon, shouldn’t I object to your name on Constitutional grounds?) :wink:

No. Any one man should not have the power to so radically alter a law that was passed by Congress. Either approve the whole thing, or reject the whole thing.

This does, however, put the onus on the president’s political allies to do their best to prevent “riders” to bills that are attached to them simply to make the bill unpalatable.

Makes sense to me. The only thing the Rebs were right about.

What kind of line-item veto would it be? It doesn’t work the same everywhere. IIRC, there was (is?) a state where a governor was able to completely change a bill by striking out individual letters.

It would be a type of Line-item veto where if there is a certain passage that is not in the best interests of the people, it should be and can be removed.

I think this is why bills are written like laws and not like novels.

Crikey! I’d never heard that’n! That’s actually rather hilarious. I’ll just strike out the word “not” here and there…

In California, it only applies to specific kinds of lists of expenditures. The legislature sends it to the Governor in the form of a list, and that list, only, is subject to line-item vetoing. Other bills, such as crime bills, are not subject to line-item strikeouts.

SCOTUS said no in 1998.

I think it’s a bad idea. The President should only be able to sign or veto a law as a whole, not edit it to his satisfaction.

Let’s say Congress authorizes the President to send troops to some foreign country under threat. But to keep a check on him, they say he must have ongoing re-authorization from Congress every ninety days or withdraw the troops. The President could sign the part giving him permission to send the troops and veto the part requiring him to get re-authorization. That would clearly be defying Congress’ intent.

Or a more partisan example. Let’s say the Democrats and Republicans in Congress are able to come together on a deficit reduction deal. The Republicans agree to a tax increase while the Democrats agree to spending cuts. They’ve worked out an acceptable compromise and the bill is passed. The bill goes to the President who then vetoes half of it based on his party affiliation. A Republican President would veto the tax increases and just make it spending cuts and a Democratic President would veto the spending cuts and just make it tax increases. In fact, the President could have gotten together with the members of his party in Congress and told them they could offer anything it took to get the other party to vote for the compromise and it wouldn’t matter because he’d throw about the parts they didn’t want.

It was Wisconsin. And the governor’s powers have been curtailed twice since that happened.

Sure. In the short term it will solve some obvious issues. But, also obviously, in the future, this will cause some other obvious issues when future legislation is written with this in mind. But I welcome this evolution of the legislative process, and the innovativeness of legislators in trying to out evolve this method.

No, the president does not have the power to legislate, and shouldn’t. Line item veto creates a new law, one that Congress did not pass. The executive branch should not (does not, as SCOTUS ruled) have that power, no matter how much intuitive appeal this concept has.


Absolutely not. One could imagine a “grand bargain” where each side makes numerous concessions in order to get something done. Then the president goes ahead and strikes out all the concessions made by his side.

The president should either sign it or veto it, and “signing statements” should be found unconstitutional.

This is exactly my objection. If a solution to the fiscal cliff could go from 500 billion spending cuts and 100 billion revenue increase, to suddenly just be 100 billion in revenue increases with no spending cuts. How would it be possible to pass anything?

I don’t have any problem with signing statements as long as it is recognized that it just represents the presidents opinion and carries no legal weight. If the president signs an anti-torture bill with the claim that water-bording isn’t torture, then anyone water boarded can take the administration to court for violating and leave it up to them to decide whether the presidents interpretation was correct.

I assume we are talking about the President being able to strike out individual items in a budget, not lines in a law. And then Congress could restore the cut (or elimination of a tax break, or whatever) either by simply majority vote or else a super-majority - two thirds is the figure I heard.

We’d have to amend the Constitution, but it sounds like a good idea to me. I have no problem with the President getting involved in legislation. He does that anyway, not only behind the scenes but with his ability to threaten veto.

The caveat would be that he couldn’t change anything - just take it out, and let Congress put it back if they can.


In the states that actually have line item vetoes, it doesn’t work that way. It only applies to lines in spending bills. So much for schools; so much for farms; so much for fire departments; etc. The Governor can strike out specific items. He might not like fire departments very much. Whatever.

It does not apply to laws such as you describe.

It’s very likely that if a Constitutional Amendment were passed to create a LIV, exactly the same kinds of protections would be established. Otherwise, as in the example Lord Feldon cited, the executive would be re-writing all laws in detail.

It would, I think, be better to make it so that each individual bill has to be about one thing, and one thing only. If it can be reasonably construed to be about more than one unrelated thing, it must be split up into separate bills (this would require careful definition in order to be a useful metric, but I assume it could be accomplished).

This wouldn’t give the president the power of crossing out specific lines, but it would totally prevent all the riders and attachments to completely unrelated bills, as is often the case.