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View Diary: Professor Epstein Sounds the Alarm on Signing Statements (159 comments)

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  •  The problem is that Clinton sold the line item (4+ / 0-)
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    walkshills, docangel, Simplify, greenearth

    veto concept and there are a lot on our side that bought it because it came from him.  That is why it is judiciously debated amongst Democrats.  I think that was the tipping point on Clinton from my yellow dog dem lawyer father.  From that point on my father had no faith in him because he understood how dangerous long-term that idea would be.

    •  but the line item veto is just for budgets, right (1+ / 0-)
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      it is still dangerous, but I think the idea that you can remove paragraphs, sentences, or words from a law is not what is being discussed.  We should be talking about whether president can remove, say, the bridge to nowhere out of the highway bill or the space shuttle out of NASA or Head Start funding or a new tank program.  Am I wrong?

      •  It was just for budgets that is true, but (9+ / 0-)

        it still opens up a can of worms.  A good example is the GOP passing No Child Left Behind (aka Back Over Them with the Bus Instead), the Congress created a mandatory program with no funding.  The same principle applies to the line item veto in that the president can remove a "line" and change the entire dynamic.

        Either way, it is a bad idea and it disenfranchises the people and it is unconstitutional.  

        Clinton started the heavy usage of signing statement too by the way.  You just didn't notice because you didn't object to what he was doing.  This is the problem with skirting the rules, if you don't stick to them they'll get broken by someone with bad intentions at some point and because you didn't stop it when it started even with the best intentions, it is much harder to stop.

    •  It seems that there is a systematic problem (11+ / 0-)

      with Congress not being jealous enough of its power when it's controlled by the same party as the President.  They're plenty jealous individually regarding committee assignments etc. (too jealous, to the point of endangering our security, according to the 9/11 Commission), but when it comes to legislative branch versus executive branch, the legislative is all too happy to cede power.

      Case in point:  the "authorization for the use of military force" in Iraq.  Invading Iraq was a war by anyone's definition, and the Constitution explicitly assigns declaration of war power to Congress.  Instead, Congress gave the President the "authority" to go to war.  It lets Congress off the hook -- it lets them evade responsibility.  People like Kerry can justify the vote to themselves, cast in fear that they'd be branded (the dreaded) "weak on defense," by saying that Bush fucked it up, not him.  It's Bush's war, not the good Senator's.

      No.  Congress has the power to declare war because it (at least the House) is more accountable to the voters, and because a republic cannot allow one man to make such a momentous decision alone.  That is far too much power.  A declaration of war is mandatory.  If the President wants a war but can't get Congress's support, no war.  If Congress declares war against the President's wishes, tough shit, he has to lead a war.

      Same with the line item veto, even just for the budget.  It's Congress's power and responsibility, not the President's, and for good reason.  Just because Congress is tired of being called corrupt doesn't mean they can let themselves off the hook by having someone else clean up their messes.

      So, the judicial branch held constitutional government together when they rejected the line item veto, and thank all that is good in our country for that.  But in the near term, is there any other check on Congress weaseling out of what they're responsible for?  With the likes of Arlen Specter, they might cut the courts completely out of the picture soon enough.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Sun Jul 16, 2006 at 06:44:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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