The Debt Ceiling and the Line-Item Veto

As we approach financial doomsday with the current clash of ideologies regarding whether or not the debt ceiling should be raised, revenues increased and/or programs cut, one thing stands out that, to my knowledge has not been addressed:

The Line Item Veto.

There was an experiment with the line-item veto a few decades ago, I believe, wherein the President could simply cross out expenditures he did not approve of, and then sign the budget. It’s not constitutional.


When the debt ceiling fecal matter hits the fiscal fan, the Executive Branch will be forced into a situation where it can only pay out as much as it takes in: i.e. we will have, by default (no pun intended), a balanced budget. WITH ONE HUGE CAVEAT:

THE PRESIDENT WILL GET TO CHOOSE WHICH BILLS GET PAID AND WHICH DON’T. Republicans will have essentially handed President Obama a line-item veto on a silver platter.

This author humbly suggests that all federal funding that flows to Republican districts have their funding stopped. After all, discrimination based on political affiliation does not violate the Constitution. The voters in those districts elected Republicans. Why not make them pay the price of their choice?

Republicans are handing over immense power to the President. Companies that contribute heavily to Republicans and right-wing PACs could suddenly see their federal contracts dry up on August 3. And there’s not a damn thing Republicans can do about it…except vote to extend the debt ceiling – on a clean, stand-alone bill.

14 thoughts on “The Debt Ceiling and the Line-Item Veto

  1. I’m not sure the Executive choosing which bills to pay amounts to a line item veto, but it does have the same effect.
    May I echo your suggestion that the President start with Social Security and Medicare checks to districts represented by those who refuse to participate in the political process?

    Our nation has a grand tradition of governing through negotiated compromises. Many of these compromises required electoral risk, but that’s how we have, up until now, governed ourselves.
    Those that refuse to negotiate a solution should bear the brunt of the consequences.

  2. Hartmann has said this several times recently. He’s also said that the President can’t cut funds within a program for certain areas, but could choose to not fund programs entirely if they disproportionately affect certain areas of the country. So he has to send out all the Social Security checks, he can’t withhold them for Kansas and Oklahoma, for example.

    What program should be defunded first?

    • Agreed on your first point — but on the second — I wouldn’t find anything wrong with withholding SS checks from people whose income is over $250/year.
      The IRS computers should be able to sort them pretty quickly.

  3. Virginia will be among the first states to suffer and will have our bond rating downgraded. Our republican Guv has admitted default will devastate the state’s economy. Odd that a selfish Virginian named Eric is leading the charge to flush us down the toilet.

  4. I don’t think you could limit payments based solely on geography; particularly if it could so easily be traced to partisan politics.

    • be nice though if it could:

      “You voted for a Teabagger, you get no federal money, zip, nada – you want small government – here it is!”

  5. Got interrupted before I could finish up…

    I think you could, however, target entire programs that may (or may not) have a particular partisan leaning.

  6. Frankly, the President could decide on a check-by-check basis. Those who take umbrage over not getting paid would have to sue in Federal Court. Since the Federal Courts are backlogged due to Repulbicans blocking Obama’s judicial nominations, their suits might get heard in about 5 years, give or take a year or two.

    Then, when it gets down to the heart of the matter, it was an Administrative decision regarding which bills to pay, and which not to pay. The Courts will give great defference to Administrative decisions such as these. After all, the Judiciary does not want to put itself in the position of telling the Executive Branch how it should prioritize spending with a limited budget. Could you imaging a lone District Judge, with a clerk and a research attorney, having to review and prioritize every single check written by the U.S. government? Ain’t gonna happen.

  7. Last week, in newspaper editorials, some people blamed the President for the shutdown of the Shuttle program. By the way the editorial was written, one could tell the writer wasn’t a fan of the President in the first place. Apart from this disconnect, do people really not understand that by cutting taxes, there are real world consequences to paying for programs that we wish to keep in this country?

    Taxed enough already? But you don’t want anyone touching your Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security? Taxed enough already? But you want to privatize the post office and schools and roads — but you don’t want to pay more for them?

    Why can’t people put two and two together?

    Don’t want to raise the debt ceiling? It’s like buying a car and crashing it and then deciding that you don’t want to pay for what you already bought.

    • Too many people do not take the time to add up two plus two — they speak, act and vote from their gut reaction to events and don’t thinkthings through as to cause and effect, except in the most simplistic terms.
      I say this often, but I will say it again — the failure of the media to actually practice journalism which is to inform the public accurately, to be the watchdog over government and to rerport events without bias ispart and parcel of the problems we face today.
      At one time “news” was on TV as a non-profit public service. That has changed dramatically in the recent generation when profits became the motivation, media consolidation, and the influence of bias in all rerporting without labeling it as commentary.

        • Of course, there is also the issue of the “dumbing down” of our society as well. There seems to be the assumption that people still have the intelligent, critical thinking skills with which to make good judgements, vote intelligently, or recognize when they are being duped and led down the path to destruction…but I don’t think that’s really true of a great part of our society any more.

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