Line-item veto

A Historic Veto (8/11/97)

Line-Item Fallout: Criticism, Possible Lawsuits (8/12/97)

Clinton Veto Points To N.Y. Dispute (8/12/97)

Back To Court For Line-Item Veto (8/11/97)

Other Presidents Wanted Line-Item Power Too (8/11/97)

Simmons Says He's Being Unfairly Singled Out (8/11/97)

Former Governor Hits Clinton Veto (8/11/97)

CQ: Clinton Weighs Politics, History In Decision To Use Veto Power (8/11/97)

CQ: Can States Give Washington A Lesson In Veto Politics? (8/11/97)

Voter's Voice: Clinton And The Line-Item Veto

Special Report: The Price Of Pork

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Line-Item Veto Guy!

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Line-Item Fallout: Criticism, Possible Lawsuits

Lawmakers may find new ways around the president's pen

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Aug. 12) -- When President Bill Clinton used his new line-item veto power this week, he expected an immediate challenge in the courts. That's still likely, but in the meantime, Clinton has run into a quick blast criticism.


The most ironic came from the office of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, which complained it was blindsided by the president's use of his new power, notwithstanding Gingrich's long support of giving the president the line-item veto authority.

The problem, Gingrich's office said, was that the Clinton Administration never raised objections to the three provisions he vetoed during the protracted balanced budget negotiations. The vetoes, Gingrich's office said, "may have less to do with sound policy and more to do with petty politics."

The White House took note of the Gingrich criticism.

"Everybody liked the line-item veto. Republicans fought for the line-item veto, as did the president," Clinton advisor Rahm Emanuel said this morning on NBC's "Today" show. "Now, all of a sudden, you use it once and there are some people who said this is not the right time, not here, not now."

Other Republicans, though, said Clinton was acting well within his authority and now it's up to Congress to decide whether to reverse the vetoes. One option, rather than trying to muster the two-thirds majorities needed to do that, would be to negotiate new language with the White House.

Making legislation 'line-item veto-proof'

Over time, some analysts suggested, lawmakers will find new ways to draft legislation that is "line-item veto-proof." On the tax side, it's as simple as making sure there are more than 100 beneficiaries, since that's the threshold in the original legislation.


On the spending side, it could mean hiding so-called "pork-barrel" projects in legislation favored by Clinton and not specifying dollar amounts that the president could seize on and line out.

Not surprisingly, some of the strongest criticism of Clinton's use of his new power came from those most directly affected by Monday's vetoes.

"It's pretty sad when we come to the point where petty politics misrepresents a provision like this that we think will help our producers, not only throughout the state of Missouri, but throughout the country," said Don Cassidy of the Missouri Farm Bureau, who was critical of Clinton's veto of a tax break on the sale of a sugar beet processing company to a Utah cooperative. "This is politics, folks, at its worst."


Clinton said that veto was the toughest. "This provision would have allowed a very limited number of agribusinesses to avoid paying capital gains taxes, possibly forever, on the sales of certain assets to farmers' cooperatives," the president said.

The president also angered members of both parties in New York by eliminating a special provision that would have given the state a $200 million dollar break forgiving that much in state Medicaid taxes on hospitals that were ruled illegal.

New York's Republican Gov. George Pataki raised the possibility of a court test.

"It's incomprehensible, it's extremely disappointing, and we're going to have to review it and take whatever action we believe is appropriate," Pataki said.

Editorial opposition

Two of the nation's leading newspapers suggested Clinton's first use of the line-item veto could also be the last, if the Supreme Court strikes down the law as an unconstitutional shift of power from the legislative to executive branch.


The Washington Post repeated its opposition to the line-item veto in an editorial this morning. "Just in case we have not been tiresome enough on this subject, we will restate what strikes us as wrong about the line-item veto," the Post said. "It is both a questionable and very important alteration in the constitutional balance of powers between the branches, resting on little more than a confession by Congress that it can no longer control its own compulsion to spend ... "

In an editorial entitled "Line Item Mischief," The New York Times also raised the constitutional red flag, saying that "even if Congress thinks that ceding power to the President is a good idea, the Constitution does not."


Around the country, however, some people -- even some skeptical of Clinton as president -- applauded his use of his new budget authority.

"I've never voted for Clinton and never would, but I think his use of the line-item veto in these three cases was completely appropriate," wrote Dick Bureson of La Jolla, Calif. in an AllPolitics' Voter's Voice e-mail. "I am appalled that Newt Gingrich's spokeswoman has criticized him for it and I think that Trent Lott's response showed a lot more political, not to mention common, sense.

"If the Congress doesn't like the vetoes, let them overrule Clinton or whatever president and then justify their action to the voters.

"This is the best thing that has happened to average Americans since the beginning of the republic," Bureson said.

CNN's Bob Franken contributed to this report.

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