I’m sure, like Jeff and Mark Alexander, I fall in to a distinct minority of conservative-minded folks in that I do not approve of the line-item veto.
Jeff gives a great example of the sort of situation fiscal conservatives point to as their case for the line-item veto:
Congress has embraced the notion of passing ten-thousand-page omnibus bills that provide an appropriation for buying missiles, invest taxpayer dollars in education, reform the health-insurance, and by the way also fund half a dozen wasteful squanderings of the federal treasury. And if the President wants to veto it, he has to veto it all. Nuts, right?
As Jeff goes on to say, yes, it is nuts. But members of Congress need to stand up and defend their reasons for why they want these “wasteful squanderings” included along with the legitimate items in such bills. (Though I will quibble that the government has no business in the health insurance business, either.) Equally so, the President–and this is any president, not just the current one–should get the message out to the American people why he’s vetoing the entire bill, despite all of its good and legitimate items.
More communication is the key. As Jeff puts it, the American people need to be made smarter as to the machinations of their government. The two parties seem to enjoy playing politics, so why not extend that to budgetary items? If Congress sends you a spending bill with bridges to nowhere in it, you veto it, tell the American people you vetoed it because of the bridges to nowhere, and mention you’d be happy to sign it when it comes back without the bridges to nowhere within. Likewise, if Congress sends a spending bill without any largesse–stop laughing, this is a hypothetical after all–and the President still vetoes it, Congress has that handy two-thirds majority thingy from the Constitution.
Like net “neutrality” legislation, I think the line-item veto is a mountain that’s actually a molehill. We have more important areas to concentrate on, like keeping those who wish to kill us outside of our borders.