Let’s try the Line Item Veto lite

In the WSJ, Kimberly Strassel urges Trump to use the Impoundment Act of 1974 to cut the recent $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill.  This act was used by Reagan, with total savings of $25 billion.  It’s a soft version of the line-item veto.

This is a fabulous idea.  The cuts achieved might be small, but they’re a demonstration  of the effectiveness of the LIV.

The items chosen for cuts should be the most outrageous examples of waste.  They can be used to show what a real line-item veto could accomplish.  You want to see how LIV would work?  Here it is.

Let’s hope someone in the White House  —  Larry Kudlow  –is paying attention.


Making the case to the President: the policy and the politics ALIVE#2

Because no one can be certain what would emerge from a Balanced Budget Amendment Convention, it is impossible to give President Trump a firm guarantee that the proposed BBA would include a line-item veto.  But evidence can be produced which makes it highly likely.

22 state legislatures were represented at the 2017 Phoenix Convention of States, called for the purpose of planning for a BBA Amendment Convention.  19 delegations were jointly appointed to by both the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate.  Three delegations, which were not given voting rights, were appointed by only one presiding officer.

I was appointed to represent the Alaska State Senate by Senate President Pete Kelly.  I was able to interact with many Commissioners in Phoenix, and my experience confirmed everything I had learned in the last five years of lobbying state legislators on the BBA.  I have no doubt that the vast majority would love to give the President the line-item veto.  In a heartbeat. 90% of them have governors with a LIV, and they know how effective it is at controlling spending.

In order to convince the President to help us, I think we have to show prove, by a preponderance of evidence, that any proposed Balanced Budget Amendment would include a line-item veto.  Based on my experience, and that of fellow BBA advocates, this evidence can be produced.  It will take time, but it can be done.

It needs to be done over the next few months, leading up to the budget battles of October, and the elections shortly thereafter.

When the elections are over, the Democrats may control the House.  But even if the Republicans maintain their majority, it will almost certainly be a diminished one, with even less ability to take tough votes.  At that point, President Trump will be looking at two years of gridlock leading up to his own reelection.  During his entire first term, he will have only one legislative accomplishment, the tax cut.  What can he credibly promise in his second?  What is Trump’s second term agenda?

How about a Balanced Budget Amendment with a line-item veto.  It may be possible, with Trump’s help, to pass BBA Resolutions in the six needed states in 2019.  But if we come up a state or two short, the BBA and the Line Item Veto can be the issue in the 2020 election, at both the state and federal levels.  Democrats opposed, and Republicans in favor.

80% of Americans, and 65% Democrats, are in favor of a BBA.  If that’s the issue, Trump wins.















































































































































Americans for a Line Item Veto (ALIVE) Bulletin

I have an article out tomorrow at The American Thinker website.  Deputy Editor Monica Showalter helped shape it up, and my thanks to her.

As the article reveals, I want to set up an organization called Americans for a Line Item Veto (ALIVE).  For now, ALIVE’s website will be the Reagan Project.   So here’s the first ALIVE Bulletin.

Looking into the political history of the line item reveals:

  1.  A campaign is underway in ultra-blue Rhode Island to give the Governor the line-item veto.  The campaign’s website says that of their 38 State Senators, 37 are in favor, none opposed, and one unknown.
  2. On the 1996 vote to give President Clinton the line-item veto by statute, the following voted yea;  John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Diane Feinstein and Joe Biden.
  3. The only organized opposition to the line-item veto is the John Birch Society.  Why were we not surprised?

Right now, Congress writes the budget, in a manner of speaking.  That’s why it’s a national disgrace.  The President’s budget is dead on arrival.  With the line-item veto, everything changes.  The President’s budget is the budget.  Any legislative increases can be vetoed, one by one.

The founding fathers most feared an executive tyrant, or king, so the Presidency is a deliberately weak institution.  All the power was given to Congress.  The states, using Article V, are taking some of that power from Congress, and the only place to put it is in the Presidency.

Putting Congress in its place is very good politics.  The politics of Article V are like a great untapped dome of oil, ready with a gusher of votes for the man who taps in to it.


Politics is selling candidates or policy.  Article V advocates are selling the policy of fiscal restraint, and have unwisely chosen as their brand “the balanced budget amendment.”  The words are those of an accountant.  They’re awkward.  A better brand is needed to make this sale.  Who, other than economist, get excited or inspired by the term “balanced budget amendment”?

“Line-item veto” just sounds punchier.  Nobody knows what balanced budget amendment really would be,  so it fails to strike a chord.  Everybody knows what a veto is, and line-item is a money term, so it translates into stopping the spending of money.  You don’t have to be budget bug to know exactly what it means.

We need a new organization, something like Americans for the Line Item Veto (ALIVE) or Citizens for the Line Item Veto (CLIVE).  As a brand, the “Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force (BBATF)” won’t be missed.

We need a new name to go with our new mission  — which is to balance the budget with the line-item veto.  The President will be responsible for balancing the budget.  We will have given him the power.  The responsibility comes with it.  Congress is so corrupt, and Congressmen so entrenched, that it has become unaccountable.

Presidents are accountable, as Trump will be in 2020.  Let him take full ownership of the deficit, and see what he can do with it.

21 trillion reasons we need a line-item veto

The power of Congress has corrupted it, and must be reduced

A line-item veto is a transfer of power from Congress to the President.  This would be the first such transfer in our history.  The only other Constitutional changes that are comparable are the direct election of Senators and Presidential term limits.

The 17th Amendment stripped state legislatures of their power to elect Senators.  They deserved it.  A seat in United States Senate was a prize that for sale to the highest bidder.  The corruption of the state legislatures caused their loss of power.

President Franklin Roosevelt showed that a skilled politician could become President for life.  The 22nd Amendment was a repudiation of the concentration of power in the President.  Roosevelt’s refusal to give up power meant his successors were term limited..

And so it is with Congress and the line item veto.  They have richly earned their comeuppance, giving us 21 trillion reasons to reduce their spending powers.

A political campaign for the line-item veto is a campaign against Congress, and, effectively, its leaders.  As such, right now it’s hard to see how it could lose.  Whoever leads such a campaign will be richly rewarded, politically.