Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bush Poised to Veto Spending Bill

A pork-ridden spending bill that far exceeds what the President requested is facing a veto if it makes its way to the Oval Office. The White House labeled the bill a "budget-buster", pointing to the $11 billion price tag over and above the original request. (Washington Post: Bush Threatens Veto Of New Spending Bill.)

House and Senate leaders cited the need to fund more border security and more police on the streets as the reasons behind the hefty price tag. As presented, the new budget stands at $500 Billion but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)charges that the burden is "too much to ask of the American taxpayer."

This is a civics lesson that the general public must learn and remember as we head to the polls in 2008. Leftist critics are fond of pointing to President Bush whenever they talk about our national debt, or out of control spending. What these same critics conveniently choose to forget is that the budget is not in the hands of the President. Congress has the sole responsibility for establishing the national budget. It is interesting to note that in the period where the debt increased dramatically (the 1980s) we had a Democratic controlled congress. When the budget was brought under control and we started moving towards paying off the debt during the Clinton years we had a Republican controlled congress. Neither Reagan nor Clinton had any control over the budget, so they should share neither the blame nor the credit with regards to the debt during their tenure.

True, the post-9/11 Bush years saw a huge increase in debt, and that congress was Republican. We fiscal conservatives on the right point to that as a primary reason why we lost control of congress - that congress abandoned the conservative values that put them there. They diverged too far from the principles that govern the party and the electorate rightly tossed them out. Now that congress is back under Democratic control, however, we are seeing a return to the tax and spend mantra that plagued us for years. It never worked in the past and it won't work now.

Whenever you hear someone complain about the national debt or how much we're spending, be mindful of exactly what the US Constitution has to say about it:

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;
The powers of the President with regards to the federal budget are extremely limited. His only option is to request funding from Congress, and it is congressional responsibility to respond yes or no to that funding request. Most in Congress today would prefer to deflect the debt issue onto the President, but there is no valid argument for doing so. There is certainly no constitutional argument, that's for certain. Congress controls the purse strings, pure and simple. Remember that in 2008.

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