The following is a position paper of The Jacksonian Party.
The Republican leader of the Senate, Bill Frist, seems to have realized that People just do not like earmark expenditures and general porkrification of the Federal Budget to suit the majestic needs of the sinecured landed aristocracy upon the Hill. And he proposes three things to do about it. A big Hat Tip to Instapundit on this!
So, lets take a look at that line-up in a sweetened condensed version:
1) Line item veto! Well, hasn't *that* been the biggie for the Republican Party since before Ronald Reagan! Say, since you folks have control over both Houses, why haven't you done a DAMN THING to get one passed? You did under Clinton... and it did *not* survive, did it? Sorry, Sen. Frist, but that one is something the Republican Party has just proven to be non-serious about and your ventilating on it now demonstrates a total lack of backbone on the part of Republicans on this issue. You had plenty of time to get one passed before this and have done not *one damn thing* about it. And you folks still haven't figured out how to make it Constitutional short of an Amendment, and the good People think it shouldn't be necessary to do that.
2) Why, an Over-Spending Act!! Can We the People ask the penalties involved if it is not adhered to? Could you make it along the lines of a 'life imprisonment without possibility of parole' sort of penalty? Instead of just 'oh, if we can get 50%+1 in both Houses we can do as we wish' sort of thing that you folks in your Majesty are so prone to do. And if you had been serious about this, like the Republicans said they were way back in the... oh what was it, the 1970's? This would have been an A-#1 top priority on the first session in which the Republicans could get a majority vote in both Houses and a signature from the Executive. Hasn't happened, has it?
3) Caps on discretionary spending! Of course that is just legitimizing some pork over other pork... so really a non-starter. See #2 for the reasoning why. The Aristocrats of the Hill in the District really would just *ignore* this. Always have and always will. Ever hear of Gramm-Rudman?
So, The Jacksonian Party puts forth its own idea of what should happen to drive this silliness out of the budget process for good and all.
First - When the Executive proposes a base budget for the necessary parts of the Federal Government to keep doing their jobs and do the programs that are necessary to support the Republic, Congress should give it an up-or-down vote. Remember, this is not a pork-filled, special interest festooned budget. This is a 'keep everything going as it is, fund those things that need be funded, and let the Federal workforce get on with its actual JOB' sort of budget. Congress, can, in its wisdom, vote it down and explain exactly WHY it did so. And, upon doing so, the entire Federal Government, save for Defense shuts down and the borders are CLOSED to all Trade, Traffic and Immigration. The wheels of Government, save those necessary to keep the Nation defended grind to a complete and utter halt at the behest of the Executive. That is the one proviso attached to that budget... vote for it to keep the Government going or vote against it to shut it down.
Second - The Executive and Congress may propose *additional* things that they think the Government needs to do. This shall include special programs, agency re-alignment and reform and the such like. Each and every item gets a line number, a name, and a complete and thorough description of what is to be funded and *how*. Congress can bundle or unbundle these things as it sees fit, although it would be a good idea to put reform into a separate bill and *other things* into its own bill. These can go into effect once signed into Law.
Third - Congress can, of course, propose its *own* budget, as it is wont to do. And if passed the Executive may say that for all things that are just 'line items' with no backing in text upon the desk of the Executive, that such projects and programs will NOT be enacted. And then shut the Government down as Congress has not proven itself serious about keeping the Government working for the People... instead of their special interests and pet projects.
In point of fact, the Executive could say that TODAY and refuse all money that is not clearly and specifically outlined beyond the daily operations of any part of the Government. And this especially goes for 'earmarks' and 'off budget' items that do NOT show up in any damn bill but are buried way back in conference reports. The Executive may say the following:
"In my power as Head of the United States Government, I shall only spend money that is clearly and definitively outlined by that Government and by its Congress and myself in bills that have passed both Houses of Congress and appear upon my desk. If programs and projects are not clearly identified and given full description as to their VALUE to the People of the United States, I, as Head of the Government shall stop all such work on these items and refuse money from Congress to do these things which do NOT have clear and present statement in the actual budget. If it does not show up on my desk in clear form, it shall NOT BE DONE. And if Congress has any problem with that, it may only address myself as the Head of Government and not any constituent Agency thereof as this is my Power as President to do this and not a choice of any other part of the Government."Now THAT should clear up this entire earmarking business once and for all!
And the Executive branch embodied in the President could do that TOMORROW.
Good government should not be something that needs to be enforced by Law, Senator Frist.
It should be worth doing as a good action in and of itself.
The fact that you propose a Law to enforce good behavior shows the exact lack of faith that We the People have in Our elected representatives in Congress to actually take care of the Union.
Consider this the: Put up or Shut up rule for Earmarks and Pork.
Show everyone what you want and put it up for a clean vote.
Or shut up and let Government do its work for the People.
That is *why* Congress is elected now, isn't it?