Mr. Will is not exactly my favorite columnist, but occasionally I cut him a break because he is an ardent baseball fan. When I saw the headline for today's column I decided to actually read what he had to say. I'm still scratching my head. Apparently Mr. Will is opposed to the line-item veto on constitutional grounds, which is an opinion I happen to share. It's a violation of the 'presentment clause', which talks about Congress presenting a bill to the president who must either sign "it" or veto "it." The Constitution does not provide for partial vetoes.
Here's Mr. Will's analysis on why the line-item veto is a bad idea:
...were a president empowered to cancel provisions of legislation, what he would be doing would be indistinguishable from legislating. He would be making, rather than executing, laws and the separation of powers would be violated. ...
Realistically, the line-item veto probably would be pertinent to less than 20 percent of the budget. And the line-item veto might result in increased spending. Legislators could get credit for putting in what presidents would be responsible for taking out. And presidents might use the pork for bargaining, saying to individual legislators: If you support me, I won't veto the bike path you named for your Aunt Emma.
Well, true enough. It's hard to disagree with that analysis. But, I would remind you, that was written by a conservative and written during a presidential campaign in which several of the leading Republican contenders are trying to outdo each other in proclaiming the need for the line-item veto.
Here, however, is where it really gets weird:
After a century of the growth of presidential power, and after eight years of especially aggressive assertions of presidential prerogatives, it would be unseemly to intensify this tendency with a line-item veto.
Good grief! Has the president even lost George Will?
Maybe in his next column Mr. Will could provide an analysis of the constitutionality of signing statements. Then I would really be convinced that the End Times approach.
Labels: The Unitary President