The idea of a line item veto, or a partial veto, would allow the executive branch of any government to approve laws without approving certain provisions that are included with a law. It would give the executive branch the power to cancel individual provisions in spending, contract management, or potentially even a treaty. The other branches of government would still have the ability to override the veto, but the law would go into place as the executive branch has approved of it. There are some definite advantages and disadvantages to this practice. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
What Are the Pros of the Line Item Veto?
1. It Could Stop Wasteful Spending
One of the biggest problems in modern lawmaking is that spending items are often included into laws to bring about a level of compromise. These earmarks take money away from the annual budget of the government and put them towards district specific spending that may not be needed. The line item veto could stop wasteful spending like this.
2. It Allows The Government To Be More Efficient
Instead of sending an entire bill back for debate because it has been vetoed, the good parts of the bill can automatically be implemented into law and provide people with the services they need. It ultimately means that more can be accomplished by politicians because less time is spent trying to find out where compromise can be had.
3. It Saves Money
President Bill Clinton had a line item veto for a short amount of time and it is estimated that even with 38 vetoes from Congress, it saved the United States over $2 billion.
What Are the Cons of the Line Item Veto?
1. It Puts A Lot Of Power Into One Person’s Hands
If the executive branch wanted to reward one group and punish another group, the line item veto would make is very possible. It would become a legal method of discrimination under the guise of saving money or becoming more efficient and that would serve only one purpose: to set one group of people up to hurt another group of people through favoritism.
2. It Eliminates The Balance Of Power A Government Has
Although the other branches of government would have the power to override a veto, they wouldn’t have the power to stop the altered law from being implemented. This means the executive branch would be able to alter laws to fit their own personal agenda without the checks and balances of the other branches of government for at least some period of time.
3. In The United States It Has Been Declared As Unconstitutional
President Bill Clinton had the authority of a line item veto for about two years. In June 1998, a 6 to 3 ruling overturned the line item veto authority because it allowed a president to amend bills, a power that was granted exclusively to Congress by the Constitution.
In the United States, at the national level, a constitutional amendment would be required for the line item veto to be allowed. This means that having it available in the near future is not a likely event to happen. Even so, by weighing the pros and cons of this practice, we can begin the conversation about whether or not this is right for our own local governments.