Richmond, Virginia -- June 26, 2006
Republicans control the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and, arguably, the Supreme Court of the United States. Yet they claim that this is not enough to prevent out of control federal spending. Their solution? To transfer more budget power to the President.
Republicans want to give the President a line item veto; the ability to cut spending from a bill approved by Congress. In theory, this gives the President the ability to cut abusive spending. In reality, it would give the President a lever to control the federal budget. Don't want to support my war? Fine, I'll cut funding for Medicare.
Under the Republican majority the abuse of earmarks for pet projects has exploded, and Bush's War in Iraq hasn't exactly been cheap either. But with majorities in every branch of the federal government, the Republican Party has had all the power it needed to restrict spending, had it chosen to. Something else is at work here.
The Republican proposal to shift control of the budget to the President is in fact nothing more than another power grab on behalf of Bush's runaway executive. Bush is looking to innoculate himself against the coming Democratic congressional victories in November 2006.
If the Democrats win control of Congress this year they will have several options, the most obvious being impeachment. But impeachment is opposed by many Democrats and would certainly be opposed by the overwhelming majority of Republicans. Impeachment is seen as potentially too divisive and could cause real damage to the political process.
What is more likely is that a new Democratic majority in Congress will seek to use the power of the purse to rein in the excesses of the Bush administration. Many of Bush's more extreme programs would likely see their funding disappear. Bush would, in effect, be neutered; the ultimate lame duck.
The Republican attempt to transfer budget control to the President would further undermine the perogatives of Congress. It could also lead to an even greater political crisis. If Democrats win control of both houses of Congress only to find that their hands are tied and they are unable to rein in Bush via the power of the purse, then Democratic moderates might be forced to take another look at the need for impeachment.
You can read more about it here.