Line Item Veto

Commentary by Pete du Pont

Host intro: There's a new feature in U.S. government beginning with this congressional session: the line item veto. Commentator Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis says it's been a long time coming.

Ronald Reagan constantly complained about being handed vast, pork-laden spending bills. He only had two choices: sign them or veto them.

Now Bill Clinton has the line-item veto. He can delete individual items in appropriation bills, or take away specific tax breaks.

Some conservatives are skeptical. They worry that the line-item veto will affect spending priorities, but not the overall amount of spending.

Well, I was a governor once. And I know a line item veto, used properly, can cut spending. Better still, this one redresses the budget act of 1974, which emasculated the president's budget authority in a way that's been bad for the country.

Few realize that every president from Washington to Nixon had effective line-item veto power in something called "impoundment authority." If the president thought Congress authorized money unwisely, he simply didn't spend it.

But the 1974 act left the president, the only official elected by all the people, at the mercy of the Congress when it came to spending money. There was no one standing between Congress and the pork barrel trough. The line item veto again gives the president a way to say "no." On your behalf.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you next time.

Host outro: If you could change just one thing in history, what would it be? Pete du Pont has his pick tomorrow.