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Why we need line-item veto

May 22, 2005

Would you spend $315m to build a bridge to an island with a population of fifty people?  You wouldn’t?  Huh – shows what you know.  Bronwyn Lance-Chester reports that Congress just allocated $223m toward the total cost of the Gravina Island Bridge in Alaska.  It seems the ferry leading to that island only leaves every 10 minutes and that isn’t convenient enough.

The Gravina Island project website (be sure to see the visual analysis photos) describes the curving structure in earthquake-prone Alaska as a “Gateway to the future.”  How original.

As Alaskan Highway project managers Jim Evensen and and Mark Dalton say about the Gravina Island project, “Like most of Alaska‚Äôs capital transportation expenditures, the federal government will be asked to fund the bulk of it.” 

But lest you think it’s some grasping pork expenditure, you must realize: their hands are tied.  “Federal legislation designated these funds specifically for the Gravina Access Project. The money cannot be spent on other transportation projects or in other ways without Congressional authorization.”  Darn those Congressmen forcing us to spend federal money on ludicrous projects.

How about another bridge ($200m Federal dough) to connect Anchorage to… well, nowhere, really.  That’s only the first installment – the final cost is expected to be around $2.3bn.  I don’t have all the specifics on that one yet.

Remember when Clinton worked to get a line-item veto, because pork spending gets packed into “must-pass” legislation so individual congressmen can’t vote against it?  The reasoning was that if a vetoed line was really that important, congress could come back and override the veto, which would be perfectly fair.  I keep seeing examples of why that was a good idea. 

Categories: Politics
  1. Nomen Nescio
    May 22, 2005 at 12:50 | #1

    i’m thinking a line-item veto would be the only way to address not just pork squirrelled away in must-pass bills, but all sorts of other unpleasant and unpopular laws tacked on as amendments to must-pass bills, in general.

    i used to think a constitutional amendment to the effect that laws must address one topic only might do it, but apparently Minnesota has something like that in its constitution, and i hear it’s not working for them. something that’d let individual legislators get proactive might be a better idea, i think.

  2. May 22, 2005 at 21:50 | #2

    Remember when Clinton worked to get a line-item veto…?

    Yeah, wasn’t that part of the Contract With America?

    [ducks and runs]

    Seriously, though, when I moved to Alaska in ‘94 I had a mostly positive view of Ted Stevens, in part because I believe at the time he was on the NRA Board of Directors. Then I read a Fairbanks newspaper article about him dictating to local community leaders in Fairbanks about “how it was going to be” about some thing or another, and I decided he had the flow of power in a federal system absolutely backwards.

    And then I saw just how much federal pork spending he was responsible for in Alaska, and I vowed never to vote for him.

    I moved back to the Lower 48 in ‘99 and the fact he’s so dang popular up there was a real disappointment. So much for the “Last Frontier.”

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