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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott thinks line item veto power for the president is a great idea

Posted By on Wed, Jun 6, 2018 at 6:11 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JEREMY REPER
  • Photo by Jeremy Reper
Ask Gov. Rick Scott how he feels about giving the White House line item veto power and he’d probably respond with a grin and a big thumbs-up.

That's Scott's third and latest idea in his "Make Washington Work" plan — an agenda with a namesake that seems impossible, albeit ironic, in the Trump era. Scott's other two reform proposals are term limits and a supermajority vote for tax increases. None of which seems likely to stick to the wall, no matter how hard Scott throws it.

But as for the line item veto power idea, that doesn't carry much weight because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that idea — the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, which allowed the president to void certain parts of appropriation bills — unconstitutional 20 years ago.

According to the Court's decision, the legislation violated the U.S. Constitution's Presentment Clause, which outlines legislative procedure by which bills passed in Congress become federal law, because it gave the president the power to unilaterally amend or repeal parts of statutes that had already been passed by both congressional branches.

The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia — who's more or less remembered as a conservative holy man — even offered partial concurrence in the decision, which seems like blasphemy on Scott's Tea Party part.

In a news release on Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign website, he says Congress has the ability to provide the president with the constitutional authority to remove individual budget projects. But that’s exactly what Congress did in 1996, which would later lead to the Supreme Court decision.

“As governor, I reviewed the state budget line by line every single year and eliminated projects that did not demonstrate a strong return on investment in order to protect taxpayer dollars,” Scott says, while also noting that he saved taxpayers $2.4 billion during his eight-year tenure.

But how would Scott explain the nearly 90 percent cut the arts and culture sector is going to take when the 2018-19 state budget kicks in on July 1?

Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed an $88.7 billion budget, the largest in Florida's 173-year history, which Scott then signed with ease. However, only $2.7 million of that was set aside for the arts and cultural grants in the coming fiscal year — a far cry from the more than $25 million set aside in the current fiscal year. According to the state’s Division of Cultural Affairs and regional arts organizations, for every $1 invested, the arts return between $5 to $11 to communities.

So what about that in particular didn’t demonstrate a strong return on investment? (You can read more about that here.)

Odd stuff. But then again, we’re talking about the same Scott who’s rarely, if ever, shy to pucker up and kiss President Donald Trump’s bloated ass. Just last week during the Florida governor’s sixth visit to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria, Scott said, “I don’t know what I’d do different” from the federal government’s response to the storm, when asked about the Trump administration's natural disaster recovery efforts.

A Harvard study found that more than 4,600 Puerto Ricans died as a result of the hurricane.

So we can trust this idea as far as we can throw it, too.

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