Line-Item-Veto Day in Washington

Republicans in Washington did about as good a job as I’ve seen coordinating their message Monday. When President Bush announced he was submitting line-item veto legislation to Congress, a who’s who of politicians offered their two cents.

Don’t get me wrong, I support the idea of the line-item veto. But why is that the GOP can be so efficient on this issue and so bad on another (port security)? Maybe the White House got the memo off to Capitol Hill, giving Republican press secretaries plenty of time to craft their missives.

Here’s a sampling, starting with Bush’s comments on the line-item veto.

President Bush

“Today, I’m sending Congress legislation that will meet standards and give me the authority to strip special spending and earmarks out of a bill, and then send them back to Congress for an up or down vote.  By passing this version of the line item veto, the administration will work with the Congress to reduce wasteful spending, reduce the budget deficit, and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.”

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.)

“Along with Senators McConnell and McCain I will introduce the president’s ‘Line Item Rescission Act of 2006.’  This responsible legislation will authorize the president to propose expedited rescissions to spending and targeted tax benefits in a manner that preserves the constitutional responsibilities of both branches of government.  We must continue to take a fiscally-disciplined approach in government, and I look forward to considering this legislation.”

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.)

"The line item veto is a positive tool for good governing and fiscal responsibility. I supported this measure in 1996 when we passed a line item veto proposal under President Clinton. Waste is waste, and all of us have a responsibility to help root it out and protect the American taxpayers’ dollars."

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R.-Ohio)

"I have always supported giving the President the authority to exercise the line item veto as a means to help rein in wasteful spending.  It is a useful tool that rejects the status quo as well as the agenda of more government spending that congressional Democrats want desperately to protect.  It is important that any proposal give the President real authority to eliminate worthless pork in the budget and meet the test of Constitutionality as well.  As Republicans move forward on putting together a responsible budget, we will be discussing this issue as a Conference."

Rep. Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.)

"Giving the president a line-item veto would curb wasteful spending and restrain federal spending. Having said that, until the president has a line-item veto, I’d love to see him use his current veto power to strike down an appropriations bill and force us in Congress get our act together."

Even one of President Bush’s biggest critics got the GOP memo:

Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.)

“It’s no secret that President Bush and I don’t agree on much, but I fully support giving him the line-item veto.  I’m going to introduce this legislation, Congress should immediately pass it, and I want to see President Bush use this veto pen to get tough on wasteful spending.  Under this Republican-led House and Senate, pork barrel spending has gone through the roof.  Nearly $30 billion a year is being spent on projects that have never even been debated.  Billions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted on things like research to enhance the flavor of roasted peanuts and the infamous ‘bridge to nowhere.’  We have the largest deficit in American history, and the guys in charge are acting like teenagers with a new credit card.

"Let’s pass this line-item veto, and let’s hold the President’s feet to the fire to make sure that a White House that has never once vetoed anything starts vetoing the incomprehensible waste coming out of this Congress."

And, finally, a notable anti-pork Washington interest group got in the mix:

Citizens Against Government Waste

“With a line-item veto, the president could help get special-interest and pork-barrel spending under control. Coming on the heels of last year’s record pork-barrel spending, this proposal could not be more timely.”