Bush Gives Himself a Line-Item Veto
Posted by MEC on February 2, 2008
On January 29, Bush issued Executive Order 13457, “Protecting American Taxpayers From Government Spending on Wasteful Earmarks”.
The executive order follows through on the threat the President made during his State of the Union address this week to sharply curtail the ability of Members of Congress, through the use of earmarks in committee report language, to designate funds in appropriations legislation for specific projects or organizations, most often in their district or state.
Specifically, the Executive Order:
Directs every Federal Agency to ensure that laws passed by Congress in the future do not spend money on an earmarked project based on language in a Committee report or any other communication from Members of Congress or other persons acting on their behalf.
In effect, the Executive Order declares the Bush has the power to reject against any part of the budget passed by Congress that Bush doesn’t like: a de facto line-item veto. Never mind that the Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that the Constitution does not permit the president to decide, item by item, which parts of the budget to accept or reject. If Bush doesn’t have the power of line-item veto before he signs the budget bill, he doesn’t have it afterward, either.
The flagrant violation of the Constitution isn’t the only offensive thing about this Executive Order.
Bush didn’t act against earmarks until the Democrats gained control of Congress and the number and cost of earmarks decreased:
The use of earmarks grew exponentially during President Bush’s years in the White House when the Republican Party controlled Congress. According to the watchdog group Citizen’s Against Government Waste, in 2001 there were 6,333 earmarks totaling $18.5 billion in the federal budget. By 2005, that number had ballooned to $27.3 billion for 13,997 projects. In 2007, the first year the Democrats controlled Congress, the numbers dropped dramatically to $13.2 billion for 2,658 earmarks
The Executive Order doesn’t go into effect until Fiscal Year 2009 (beginning October 1, 2008). By the time it has any effect (if enforced), Bush will be out of the White House. Bush just gave himself the power to decide how the next Administration spends the taxpayers’ money.
The first thing the next President needs to do after taking the oath of office is issue an Executive Order declaring all of George W. Bush’s Executive Orders rescinded, effective immediately.
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