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The line-item veto
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Total posts: [27]
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The line-item veto:

 1 feotakahari, Sun, 1st Jan '12 10:23:22 PM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
First, an introduction to the history of the concept in the United States.

There've been a lot of bills lately that were routine except for one ugly clause, so I'm starting to think it might be worthwhile to call for a Constitutional amendment to allow line-item vetoes. How bad would the downsides of the veto be, and if the good outweighs the bad, how hard would it be to get the amendment ratified?
That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
 2 Flyboy, Sun, 1st Jan '12 10:30:58 PM from the United States
Decemberist
Bleh. I think the line-item veto is a cool idea that would fail hard in real life due to abuse.

Like the filibuster, actually...
"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
 3 Ace of Spades, Sun, 1st Jan '12 10:41:28 PM from The Wild Blue Yonder Relationship Status: Yes, I'm alone, but I'm alone and free
Yeah, it probably would be subject to abuse. But the thing is, with Congress's recent history and increasing abuse of adding in completely unrelated shit that nobody wants to veto because the actual bill is something that needs to be passed/would make them look bad to veto, the line item veto might be a necessary power to give to the president. I mean, we either need the president to have this power or we need to nullify Congress's ability to add in entirely unrelated things to bills, because this shady bullshit is doing us all harm.

Good luck getting Congress to give the President the power to actually punch them in the balls like that, though.
With such a deadlocked and problematic Congress, I think it would help.

And I don't agree with separation of powers argument that says "the president is not a legislator" - executive and legislative branches in US are meant to work together on the same issues.

The main issue is implementation. What counts as a proper line-item delete? How do we decide?
Now using Trivialis handle.
 5 Oh So Into Cats, Sun, 1st Jan '12 11:53:08 PM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
It should be something like things that are not outlined in the bill's main purpose can be subjected to vetoing — pretty much, anything that could be considered a rider.

edited 1st Jan '12 11:54:59 PM by ohsointocats

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
But that's highly subjective and open to interpretation. We're going to have court cases over just passing bills.

I think to implement a proper line-item veto, Congress and president need adopt a new standard for the structure of a bill. Also, to prevent abuse, it should have some sort of conditions of what can be vetoed or not.

edited 1st Jan '12 11:56:49 PM by abstractematics

Now using Trivialis handle.
 7 Oh So Into Cats, Sun, 1st Jan '12 11:57:47 PM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Can't a line-item veto work like a regular veto, in which case you follow normal override procedures to get it put back into the bill? Or did it previously work like that?

Though I think if there was a way to make it so "anything that's a rider can be struck down" in a way that's not terribly confusing, it would really clean up US politics. Because, you know, it makes sense. NDAA is essentially the military budget, so anything that is not military budget in the bill should be able to be line-item vetoed, but any quibbles with the actual budget would need a complete veto.

edited 1st Jan '12 11:59:18 PM by ohsointocats

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
Well, if there's a way to set the standards correctly, I see this happening. A president vetoes certain parts of the bill, with given reasons.

Congress can then do the following:

  • Respond to the veto by recirculating the bill in the two houses, possibly letting it die.
  • Pass the bill immediately with the veto accepted. I would suggest a majority vote in each house.
  • Pass the bill immediately in its entirety, overriding the veto. This would take a 2/3 in each house.

In exchange, I would amend out the pocket veto. That's been abused enough.

I still think there's an implementation/interpretation problem, with the president trying to claim that "Up to all of this was a fair veto" and the Congress houses in respond trying to design bills in a way that is advantageous for the legislature.
Now using Trivialis handle.
 9 Ace of Spades, Mon, 2nd Jan '12 12:09:26 AM from The Wild Blue Yonder Relationship Status: Yes, I'm alone, but I'm alone and free
If neither of those happens, then you're not dealing with clever politicians at all. Anyway, what's the pocket veto again and how is it different from a line item veto?
A pocket veto is when the president does not respond to a bill. The president can just decline to act without signing or vetoing.

If Congress is still in session, the bill is auto-approved. If Congress adjourns, it's the opposite; the bill dies. The two branches sometimes fought over this technicality.

The pocket veto is absolute; if the Congress adjourns, it's not there to vote for overriding veto. To put it another way, since Congress has decided to end its activity, the auto-approval does not count.
Now using Trivialis handle.
 11 Lady Momus, Mon, 2nd Jan '12 12:15:10 PM from My Own Little World
Modelland Survivor
How bad would the downsides of the veto be, and if the good outweighs the bad, how hard would it be to get the amendment ratified?

The Supreme Court previously declared presidential line item vetoes unconstitutional, so I'd say it would be extremely unlikely.

Personally, I think restoring the line item veto is the wrong solution to the problem of politicians attaching unrelated crap (riders) to important bills. The problem isn't that the president can't do anything about the riders. The problem is the riders themselves.

If you eliminate riders, then you solve the problem without getting into an thorny constitutional issues about presidential power.
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I don't know about line-item veto, but you can have line-item voting. That's how it works in Canada, hence the lack of riders. If you tag on an addendum, people can treat them as such, so you gain zero value from making a bill bill rider.

But that's highly subjective and open to interpretation. We're going to have court cases over just passing bills.

Well, it works in some places apparently [1]
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 14 Deboss, Mon, 2nd Jan '12 5:10:56 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
@ Lady Momus, that's why the amendment would have to be ratified.
 15 Lawyerdude, Wed, 4th Jan '12 11:25:31 AM from my secret moon base
Citizen
I used to support the line-item veto, but I don't anymore. Basically we have separation of powers and checks & balances in the government. Congress drafts and passes legislation, and the President gives a yes or no. Giving the President authority to only approve parts of a bill would essentially turn the office into a third house of Congress.

If there were a line-item veto, I can easily see a friendly Congress passing a huge mess of a bill and handing it to the President with a pen, saying "pass what you want". In short, it would give the President far too much power.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
What about line-item voting in congress? I would prefer that over any sort of change of the presidential veto power.

 17 Lawyerdude, Thu, 5th Jan '12 9:22:19 AM from my secret moon base
Citizen
They have line-item voting, of a sort. Committees add and remove bits of a bill until it gets to the form they like, and then the whole chamber can make amendments if they want to. It's only when the bill gets to the final version that they're not allowed to make any further changes.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
But wasn't that the entire issue with the NDAA?

 19 Black Humor, Thu, 5th Jan '12 9:49:50 PM from Zombie City
Oh no; they could've removed that part, they just didn't.
I'm convinced that our modern day analogues to ancient scholars are comedians. -0dd1
Well in that case, I doubt any sort of legislative power changes are going to fix the problem if congress is just plain not doing its job.

edited 5th Jan '12 10:27:38 PM by breadloaf

 21 Lawyerdude, Fri, 6th Jan '12 7:25:04 AM from my secret moon base
Citizen
When bad laws get passed, it's the fault of Congress and the President. And by extension it's the fault of the American people for voting them into office.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
 22 Flyboy, Fri, 6th Jan '12 2:01:41 PM from the United States
Decemberist
And by extension it's the fault of the American people for voting them into office.

"Shit, our candidate is a psychopath. Better replace him with Newt Gingrich."
Well while I sometimes like to lay blame on the American people it's mostly that I find it is politicians driving voter demand rather than the other way around. People assume too much about democracy. The right and the act of voting does not make a democracy. It's everything else.

That's why all of America's attempts at bringing democracy to other places were just fundamentally flawed. They'd have flashy photo ops about "this man voted!" when it's totally meaningless. He just voted for some dirtbag drug lord that the US paid off to not kill people for a month. Yay!

Congress voting and presidential line-item veto is not really the solution. The problem is a congress that is fundamentally detached from the concerns of the public. The welfare of America is only loosely correlated with the rise and fall of a politician's career.

What truly matters?

  • Party politics to secure the candidacy and be on the ballot
  • Funding and donations typically from organised entities in order to advertise themselves

It's very much like CEO and corporation relationship being fundamentally flawed. If a corporation gets sunk, a CEO just jumps ship but the workers in it can't. Likewise, if push comes to shove, a CEO can just give himself a raise or maintain his compensation while firing/laying off a bunch of workers to cover for it. In the same sense, you've congressmen who basically don't have to care. They fail one election? Oh well, just switcheroo with the democrat/republican the next election.

 24 Lawyerdude, Tue, 10th Jan '12 11:37:39 AM from my secret moon base
Citizen
Americans seem to have this idea that every elected official is corrupt or incompetent, except for the ones that they themselves voted for. As a result, the same people keep getting elected even in bad times, since it's always "somebody else's fault".

But then you also have people who have demanded laws that further restrict the powers of the legislature. For example, a huge chunk of the Federal budget is non-discretionary. Earlier congresses passed certain entitlement programs, and Congress isn't allowed to just defund them without passing a whole separate law. As a result, it's even harder to pass large, desperately-needed reforms.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
I think the problem is, which American people? Is it the American people from Massachusetts or the American people from Texas whose fault it is that the NDAA passed?
I'm convinced that our modern day analogues to ancient scholars are comedians. -0dd1
Total posts: 27
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