October 9, 2007

Blogging the Republican debate.

1. It started — like my Fedcourts class — at 4, and I set the old Explorer 8000 to save it for me. So, let's go.

Chris Matthews is asking the questions. The subject is the economy (so let's see who tries to leaven the discussion with easier material). The locale is Michigan. The big excitement is that Fred Thompson is making his first appearance in a debate.

Fred gets the first question. "I see no reason to believe we're headed for ... [gigantic, scary pause]... an economic downturn." Oh, Fred, do not do that again.

2. Mitt Romney is second, and he looks startlingly handsome after that long gaze into the face of Fred. Has he changed his appearance, or is it just the contrast? He seems so lively after the lethargic Thompson. He gets off a joke right away, just some silly business about how he was afraid the governor of Michigan would tax the debate, but it gets a huge laugh.

Next up is Giuliani, and he sounds vigorous, listing "fundamentals," and sneaking in the subject of baseball. Also, he throws out the red meat: too many lawsuits.

3. Ron Paul rails about the monetary system and assigns us homework: we need to study monetary theory. John McCain assigns Ron Paul homework: "The Wealth of Nations." He [McCain] was asked about the fairness of taxes, though, and he veers off the topic after he assures us that everyone pays taxes.

4. Mike Huckabee is asked about his idea for a national sales tax. Won't that mess up the economy? No, it'll be great because it will "un-tax productivity." And drug dealers, illegal aliens, and prostitutes and pimps will start paying taxes. Huckabee is the first person to sound really sympathetic to the problems of working people.

5. Oh, good Lord. I just got a glimpse of how many guys are on the stage. Who are they all? Duncan Hunter is complaining about "Communist China," and Matthews gives Thompson a chance to defend free trade. Sam Brownback won't raise taxes. Tancredo sounds rational booming about Medicare and Social Security. (His microphone is turned way up and echo-y.)

6. Giuliani wants to cut taxes as much as possible. (It worked in NYC.) Romney wants to cut taxes and spending. (It worked in Massachusetts.) He loved the line-item veto when he was Governor of Massachusetts and thinks we should have it at the federal level. No acknowledgment of its unconstitutionality.

Oh! Ha, ha. Giuliani is next, not only telling us the line-item veto is unconstitutional, but bragging that he, personally, took Bill Clinton to court and had it declared unconstitutional. He adds: "What the heck can you do about that if you're a strict constructionist?" Ha, ha. He got in an extra kick — the two of them both claim to be "strict constructionists" (to appease the pro-life sector of the party). Oh, that was rich! He beats Mitt down even further saying he brought taxes down in New York while Romney raised them. We see Romney in the split screen. Is he writhing in pain?

Romney gets "surrebuttal" time [— the WSJ transcript has "Sir, rebuttal" — ] and reels out competing statistics. "Look, we're both guys who are in favor of keeping spending down and keeping taxes down." We see Giuliani in the split screen. I'm guessing he's thinking about how he doesn't care what they — as "guys" — favor; the question is what do you do. For guys, it's the action that counts. Romney goes on to say the place they differ is on the line-item veto and "I'd have never gone to the Supreme Court." So. You mean you like executive power and you don't want to hear what the Supreme Court has to say about it? Matthews asks him if he believes the line-item veto is unconstitutional and he's all "I do not believe it is." Giuliani: "You don't get to 'believe' about it. The Supreme Court has ruled on it." And Bill Clinton was trying to take $200 million from his city unconstitutionally. (Bill Clinton! That outrageous renegade who's married to our inevitable opponent. Only Giuliani is beating up on Hillary at this point. He's out in front because of this.)

Now, if Mitt Romney was really knowledgeable at this point, he'd say that Justice Scalia wrote a wonderful dissent in New York v. United States saying that the so-called line-item veto was constitutional, and hasn't Giuliani been going around saying he wants to appoint Justices like Scalia? But we don't get the chance to see if he's that sharp, because they move on to another question. Yet I think if he'd known enough to say that he'd have insisted on getting one more shot in.

7. Sorry. I got interrupted. If this were my job, I'd have to finish, wouldn't I? (An economics point about an economics debate.)

8. [Added the following morning.] I'm sorry I didn't keep going, but think how long this post would have been. If you watch straight through without pausing, you can blog the whole thing without it getting ridiculous, but if you pause, it's a big problem. Anyway, I did eventually watch the whole thing, but nothing jumped out at me as interesting enough to describe. Maybe my plan for future debates will be: blogging the hell out of the first half hour. Most people leave after that, I'll bet, and I think the candidates act as if they believe they do. Giuliani and Mitt sure did, and this morning everyone's talking about how they overshadowed Fred the Debate Debutant.

Speaking of plans, I love the first comment in here by Trooper York:
Adm. Painter: What's his plan?
Jack Ryan: His plan?
Adm. Painter: Russians don't take a dump, son, without a plan
(Fred Thompson as Adm. Painter in the Hunt for Red October 1990)

100 comments:

Trooper York said...

Adm. Painter: What's his plan?
Jack Ryan: His plan?
Adm. Painter: Russians don't take a dump, son, without a plan
(Fred Thompson as Adm. Painter in the Hunt for Red October 1990)

ron st.amant said...

If Thompson gets elected, I hope his Secret Service codename is Leatherface.

Just sayin'

Simon said...

I was rolling my eyes at Romney's responses on the line item veto act for much the same reasons. It seemed as though his rebuttal to Giuliani's argument that it was unconstitutional was that he thought it was a terrific idea, which doesn't hold water.

The only catch for Giuliani is that although he's correct, and he was obviously trying to be "more strict constructionist than thou," he kind of got himself into a trap: he argues that Romney doesn't get to have an opinion on the constitutionality of the line item veto appeared to be that the Supreme Court's already decided that question. Which begs the question: does he think we don't get to have an opinion on the constitutionality of abortion regulations, since the Supreme Court's also decided that question? Of course there's room for someone to question Clinton v. New York; the argument shouldn't be "it's unconstitutional because the Supreme Court says so," it's "it's unconstitutional because the Constitution says so, for the reasons the court's given." It's like reading one of those civics tests which insists that judicial review was created by Marbury v. Madison, which is like saying that the qualifications clause was created by Powell v. McCormack or whatever the first case was in which the court first ruled on the issue.

Ron Paul continues to sound completely nuts, even to someone you'd think would sympathize with (if not quite embrace) many of his positions on federal power. Huckabee sounded pretty good, I thought.

steve simels said...

I'm reposting this from a dead thread for obvious reasons.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...
simels, I can't help but feel your friend story is a sham.

It would be very easy to pull a name off The Wall; what evidence do we have that you actually knew this individual, much less that his death is in anyway associated with your scenerio?


You know, I had a feeling somebody here would be shmuck enough to say that eventually. Thank you for proving me right, and for confirming my shall we say low opinion of the knuckledragging reactionary toads that post here.

Listen, asshole -- my friend's name was Richard Brenner. He was class of 1965, Teaneck High School, in Teaneck New Jersey.

I realize you probably won't see this, but I'm going to be lurking at Althouse until you show up again.

And then I'm gonna repeat what I just said.

And if you even dare to suggest that Richie didn't exist, I will take the first plane down to Kentucky and shove our high school yearbook up your redneck ass.

save_the_rustbelt said...

The purpose for the debate being in Michigan was to discuss the biggest problem in Michigan - a seven year recession.

Apparently these boys have the same attitude as Bush - let them Meeechiganders eat cake.

(Good catch Trooper)

James said...

Mitt Romney is the biggest hack I have ever seen. From this democrat, I must give kudos to Giuliani for that one. Unfortunately for Romney, the decision in Clinton v. New York was 6-3, with both Thomas and Kennedy (as well as Rehnquist) joining Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg. Good luck trying to get that line-item veto through, Romney.

Seriously, is a gigantic sack of money to spend on campaign ads all you need to be considered a front-runner? Romney sounds absolutely terrible every time I see him.

Simon, although it's not what he said, it seems Giuliani is simply saying, you don't get to act like you're going to do something that has already been found unconstitutional. It would be like if Romney said he would push for congressional legislation banning all abortions . . . come to think of it, I can't believe Romney hasn't already said that to pander to the base.

N. said...

This is much more entertaining than actually watching the debate--especially the part about the line-item veto: "You don't get to "believe" it's constitutional--the Supreme Court has *ruled*"...I hope you'll cover all of them.

Simon said...

James said...
"[A]lthough it's not what he said, it seems Giuliani is simply saying, you don't get to act like you're going to do something that has already been found unconstitutional. "

I suppose notionally, a Romney administration could push Congress to reenact the law (or something substantively similar, such as the version Bush proposed last year), and then argue in the court that Clinton was wrongly decided. But I agree that Romney can't just waltz in pretending that this is still an open question and needs simply to be enacted by a compliant Congress and a willing President, and it seems almost disingenuous for him to suggest otherwise. I suppose we ought to give him the benefit of the doubt, writing it off to the brevity imposed by the format (after all, smart people can and did disagree with Clinton - not least Justices Scalia and Breyer), but to someone like me - granted a minority of one - Romney just really shot himself in the foot by seeming to present himself as someone who assesses what the Constitution does and doesn't say based on its utility to his own policy views. I'd really like to hear someone from his campaign engage seriously on this point. No one who can't live up to the oath to support and defend the Constitution belongs in public office - dog catcher, let alone President.


"It would be like if Romney said he would push for congressional legislation banning all abortions . . . come to think of it, I can't believe Romney hasn't already said that to pander to the base."

Ah, but the really interesting questions about Congress and abortion lie in the post-Roe hinterland and the question raised in Justice Thomas' Carhart concurrence about whether the commerce power permits Congress to legislate generally on abortion, which is a subject I disagree with Ann about, but it's interesting precisely because conservatives were quick to embrace federalism and limited powers "when such limitations frustrate goals that we oppose as a political matter[, but i]t's much harder to remain in the embrace when it means accepting that a statute we think meritorious." Yet to maintain even the faintest facade of legitimacy, we must, since to take the benefits accorded by the constitutional system ... while denying it allegiance when a special burden is imposed ... is the antithesis of law." Wechsler, Towards Neutral Principles of Constitutional Law, 73 Harv L. Rev. 1, 35 (1959). I envisage many conservatives pulling a fast 180 on federalism after Roe falls.

John Stodder said...

Thompson's demeanor, cooler than Rudy's but no less vivid, further harms Romney by contrast. His programmed, poll-tested, robotic persona is just never going to catch fire, with anybody. If he manages to buy the nomination with the support of his friends in the right-wing media, he's going to be the biggest loser since Mondale, unless the Dems nominate Edwards, in which case he would still lose, but come closer.

This looks like Hillary's year, regardless, but for the GOP to have any hope, their race needs to boil down to Guiliani v. Thompson. They are the only candidates who can possibly get independent voters.

Simon said...

John, I disagree. I'm hardly a Romney supporter, but I don't think he's a terrible candidate by any means, and I think any of the top three can potentially be viable contenders against Hillary as long as the religious right resists the urge to commit hari kari (or perhaps an honor killing of the GOP would be a better analog) in the event of a Giuliani nomination. I'd also hesitate to write off Huckabee, frankly, if he won the primary. Brownback, Hunter, Paul and Tancredo might as well go home now, though.

B said...

READING THE DAILY LIES OF THE NEW YORK TIMES SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO . . .

Meanwhile, the Times current "News" article on the debate tries to paint a discouraging picture for Republicans overall - something it has not yet done to the multitudinous Democrat debates even while posting only positive coverage of Hillary.

Which means they are at least worried that she might yet stumble.


Keeping up with the National Record of Shameful and Dishonest Daily Reporting that is the New York Times, this is "B".

Hey said...

As to Michigan's 7 year recession: until it becomes a right-to-work state and cuts taxes drastically, Michigan will continue to decay. The only thing that residents can do is leave.

The future of Michigan looks like that of Upstate New York - perpetual decline. There is nothing that anyone outside of Michigan can do that wouldn't cripple the national economy. So I'll just repeat President Ford's words: Drop Dead!

Revenant said...

I left the Libertarian Party to get away from fruitcakes like Ron Paul. Now I'm stuck listening to one of them again. Damnit.

It isn't his foreign policy views that really bug me -- he's just a run of the mill isolationist, really. The really bothersome thing is that his economic views are completely insane. Like, Creationism-meets-the-Flat-Earth Society-crazy. *Any* of the Democratic candidates would be better for the economy than Ron Paul. At least they won't single-handedly try to destroy the country's financial infrastructure.

rcocean said...

Simon,

I think you're thinking about the religious right from the wrong perspective. Its not about them committing "Hari Kari" its about them staying home and not voting.

If you're a single issue voter on abortion (which nine percent of the population is), and we nominate Rudy, these people will stay home or vote for a goofy third party. From their viewpoint, if Rudy is the equal of Hillary on social issues, there's no reason to campaign or vote for him. And wagging your finger at them won't do any good.

Bush I and Ford REFUSED to care about social issues & they lost.

jeff said...

"I will take the first plane down to Kentucky and shove our high school yearbook up your redneck ass."

Nice hijack. And no you won't.

jeff said...

It isn't necessarily which of the Republicans I (or other Republicans) can vote for, it's which one can I be excited to vote for and independents will vote for. Thompson, Giuliani, McCain, and Romney are all people I can vote for, but I am not all that excited. Anyone excited about any of the four at this point?

MadisonMan said...

if Mitt Romney was really knowledgeable at this point,

I submit that it's unncessary for a President to have that kind of knowledge.

Luckyoldson said...

Ann says: "Now, if Mitt Romney was really knowledgeable at this point, he say..."

"...he say"...??

You GO girl.

Alan said...

"Bush I and Ford REFUSED to care about social issues & they lost."

Never mind Ford having been Nixon's Vice President; and Perot taking away a significant portion of the Bush's fiscal conservative vote.

Soon we'll see the myth--that one can't win the GOP nomination without being pro-life--dispelled.

angie said...

Romney and Giuliani arguing over who cut taxes more is a good thing. The GOP could use a good theme song:

1,2,3,4
Hrmm!
1,2...
1,2,3,4.

Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet

Taxman!
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

Don't ask me what I want it for (Aahh Mr. Wilson)
If you don't want to pay some more (Aahh Mr. Heath)
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

And you're working for no one but me-- Taxman!
(Beatles)

Simon said...

RCocean, as I see it, that is committing an honor suicide - it hurts their own cause for reasons that are almost purely for show. Yes, Giuliani is pro-choice, but the operative questions are questions that relate to the President's actual involvement in that matter: nominating members of the Supreme Court. If he is going to nominate Justices who will (or even may) overrule Roe, and Hillary will nominate no one who hasn't sworn a blood oath to that case, then it's beside the point whether he is personally pro-choice. To think that a Clinton Presidency would be identical to a Giuliani Presidency, even purely in terms of abortion, seems the stuff of fantasy to me; what's the difference between Justice Kathleen Sullivan and Justice Diane Sykes? What's the difference between Justice Koh and Justice Brown? At bottom, elections are about choosing the lesser evil; refusing to support the lesser evil will accomplish precisely one thing - the election of the greater evil. And above all in the case of abortion, where the stakes are mortal, it seems as though it ought to be axiomatic that less death is less death. You don't advance (indeed, you hobble) the pro-life cause by splitting the Republican party, by getting a Democratic President elected. It seems ridiculous to me as someone who's also pro-life to vote for Hillary -- and failing to vote for the GOP nominee isn't abstaining, it's voting for Hillary, it's endorsing Hillary's position on abortion by refusing to oppose it -- because Giuliani isn't sufficiently pro-life. It's self-indulgent, self-defeating and self-deluding, and if they do walk, the defeat will be a self-inflicted wound for their agenda.

Luckyoldson said...

jeff asks, breathlessly..."Anyone excited about any of the four at this point?"

Well, for one...I sure am.

Romney - Gorgeous.

McCain - Who?

Rudy - Smarmy..

Thompson - Unconscious.

James said...

MadisonMan said...

if Mitt Romney was really knowledgeable at this point,

I submit that it's unncessary for a President to have that kind of knowledge.

I submit that if said President (ugh, thinking of Romney as President just made me shudder a little) is going to be arguing for the re-institution of something that was famously found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, he would at least think to look up reasons dissenting members used in order to argue for its constitutionality.

Simon said...

MadisonMan said...
"I submit that it's unnecessary for a President to have that kind of knowledge."

Do you mean specifically as to whether Justice X wrote opinion Y in case Z, or somewhat more broadly, the basic shape of the arguments in Clinton? If the latter, I disagree. Without limitation, first, if you're going to propose a plan that the Supreme Court has specifically held unconstitutional, you need to have a fluent and well-developed explanation of why either (a) the court was wrong or (b) your plan is distinguishable; and second (and more importantly) how can a President or member of Congress possibly uphold his oath of office unless s/he has a reasonably mature and developed view of the Constitution, at least in broad terms?

jeff said...

""Bush I and Ford REFUSED to care about social issues & they lost."

Eh, pretty broad leap there. Ford was never elected, and was Nixon's last VP and stumbled in the debates yet still mounted a furious comeback and had the election been held a day or two later, had a decent shot at winning. Bush had the disadvantage of being up a pretty damn good campaigner and dealing with a third party spinning off his votes.

jeff said...

"jeff asks, breathlessly"

You're projecting again.

Simon said...

The observations about Bush and Perot by Jeff and Alan are exactly on point. The lesson to draw from Bush 41 isn't for the rest of the party to mollify the splitters, it's a lesson for the splitters: the splitters that time around blew one historic chance to change the direction of the Supreme Court and the splitters this time are threatening to blow another.

Original Mike said...

Simon: "...and failing to vote for the GOP nominee isn't abstaining, it's voting for Hillary"

Yep. It's simple math.

tc said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James said...

Hopefully Ann works that great administrative power once again . . . can't believe I even bothered to read most of that post . . .

jeff said...

Jesus dude. Boil that thing down to about 4 lines and explain what that has to do with the topic at hand.

Beth said...

tc identifies himself "As a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) survivor" and I have to wonder: is just not dying the only criteria for being a considered a "survivor" of brain trauma?

Trooper York said...

Benjy Stone: I think I'm going to be unwell.
Alan Swann: Ladies are unwell, Stone. Gentlemen vomit.
(My Favorite Year 1982)

JohnTaylor88 said...

But I agree that Romney can't just waltz in pretending that this is still an open question and needs simply to be enacted by a compliant Congress and a willing President, and it seems almost disingenuous for him to suggest otherwise.

Romney explicitly referenced the newer versions of the line-item veto proposed by Liddy Dole and President Bush. Later in a Kudlow and Company interview, John McCain endorsed the new line-item veto bill also. Guiliani was playing games. Romney's point was that the idea was right-on, even if the language of the bill was wrong, and challenging that conception of Executive power, which Reagan supported and fiscal conservatives support, shows that Guiliani isn't as conservative as he pretends to be. Romney's argument wasn't that the Constitution should be disobeyed, only that Guiliani's attack of the line-item veto is hard to reconcile with his supposed fiscal conservatism. After all, Guiliani didn't KNOW that the line-item veto would be found unconstitutional. If New York had lost or SCOTUS had not taken the case, you still have to explain what prompted Guiliani to file the suit, and it sure as hell wasn't a love of balanced budgets.

AlphaLiberal said...

I tried to watch, I really did.

Did they attack any children?

Maxine Weiss said...

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-animals10oct10,0,7791874.story?coll=la-home-center

Mark Daniels said...

Irrespective of their opinions, I thought that most of the candidates performed quite well this evening, even Thompson, who's being dismissed by the pundits.

Giuliani turned in an extraordinary performance, I thought. Romney, as usual, was robotic and simply unbelievable. Anybody who's seen the clip of his senatorial debate with Ted Kennedy, in which he disassociated himself from Ronald Reagan, had to either wince or laugh at his invocations of Reagan. His constant references to Michigan ("It's personal") might best be described as pandering.

Romney also got the gaffe of the night when he said he would speak with lawyers regarding a possible attack on Iran.

McCain's performance was compelling.

I agree that Huckabee evidenced real concern for middle income folks.

I still think that the 2008 presidential race is the Democrats to lose. (But, as Democratic strategist James Carville points out, they have a marked propensity for beating the odds when they're favored.) But at the end of the debate, I thought, a Giuliani-Huckabee ticket might be very interesting.

Mark Daniels

Ralph said...

And drug dealers, illegal aliens, and prostitutes and pimps will start paying taxes. Huckabee is the first person to sound really sympathetic to the problems of working people
A curious juxtaposition. And how is it sympathetic to working people if their drugs, whores, and gardeners cost more?

Freeman Hunt said...

Enough about Huckabee. He's a big government guy through and through. I live in Arkansas. The man enacted a statewide smoking ban. Our state sales tax is 6% --that's without what the counties and cities add, I end up paying 9.5% total -- and when he left office we paid it on EVERYTHING including not just food but also, added while he was in office, services and used cars. And yes, we also have property tax and income tax. He can talk a good game, but that's because he's a politician.

Seven Machos said...

Freeman -- I have this theory. It goes like this: in the Northeast and the South especially, but also in prety much any region of the country, the Democrats and the Republicans are pretty much the same for deep, unchangeable cultural reasons.

Hence, Huckabee and Clinton are about the same guy. And Lincoln Chaffee and Joe Lieberman are about the same guy.

Cedarford said...

I sort of part company with those that think Romney's talk of finding waste and cutting spending so he doesn't have to raise taxes - and vetoing spending - is a loser with Republicans (or the country for that matter).

What Romney is doing is saying that he plans on emulating Arnold Schwartzenegger and doing a complete strategic audit of the Federal budget as Warren Buffet and some high-powered economists did in CA, then vetoing unacceptable outlays.

What is overlooked in Rudy, as suspected, placing the Courts above the Other Branches - is the fiscal meltdown of America that started after Clinton v. New York. The reckless idiot Bush and a complicit array of Congressional Porkmeisters have added more debt on America - 3 trillion worth - than all 42 previous Presidents, even in FY 2000 dollars.

Congress has, about the same time SCOTUS again infuriated Scalia - discovered that globalization fostered almost unchecked capital liquidity across Borders. They found international credit is easy to get, just as now-bankrupt 3rd World dictators learned.
And the more they spend, the more bacon they bring home, the safer their incumbency is. Structurally, the Constitution imposes no spending restraint on them. Spend what you want, levy no taxes on constituents. Let their kids pay off the Chinese. Live Large Today!

Congress has no shame. What is good for them and good for their homefolks, not what is good for the Nation as a whole. It is the President's job, not theirs, to figure out what is good for the nationa as a whole. THEIR focus is just the State of Mississippi or the 11th Congressional District of New York.

Unfortunately, they have removed the President as being an effective check as the Executive once was with the "Veto-Proof" Bill system they created over the years. They have learned to bundle all those goodies, wasteful old bureaucracies, secret earmarks into an Omnibus Bill that the President cannot veto in whole without shutting down vital government functions. Getting all the blame for, say, jobless unpaid National Park Rangers and all Parks shutting down, pissing off millions of campers and tourists across the nation because the Prez opposes 100 million in spending for making the Gunkywomp Swamp near and dear to Dick Durbin a "scenic wonderland".

The President is thus removed as a check without the line item veto unless he is willing to take the heat for a grounded Coast Guard leading to several deaths ---because the Bridge to Nowhere came back as an earmark along with 300 million in "state assistance for bridges they neglected to maintain"...
Or shutdown vital Agriculture functions the Gov't must do to veto 29 billion in pork to subsidize farmers not to grow anything.

SCOTUS fouled up, and as Scalia and several budget hawks in Congress like Sen Coburn and Jeff Flake and DeMint have noted - they should modify law and again go back to Scotus on an emergency basis to see if their new law will allow the Executive to get control of Gov't spending again..

Because unless we fix this Constitutional problem, the window where America can fix it's fiscal mess will close and be followed by the Creditors. Led by China, committees of wealthy bankers and ministers coming in and telling what we Americans used to tell Zimbaboo Shawali, Dictator of all of Watannabi - what austerity program the wastrel Americans will have to follow to avoid complete shutoff of global credit and the dollar being tossed in the trash as acceptable global currency. With our budget reviewed by World Bank officials and Chi-Com Party Ministry of Finance functionaries for acceptability.

The line-item bill will be indespensible when America finally has the balls or is forced by solvent foreigners - to confront its present mess and it's looming 42 Trillion in Unfunded SS and Medicare Entitlement Mandates.

*********************
And a side issue - Just substitute "abortion" to what Rudy said about Romney having no right to argue or believe on the line item veto because the argument is over, the discussion has ended because of Rudy lining up with the activist notion that "The Court has the Final Word and Authority on Everything":

Rudy Say "You don't get to 'believe' about it. The Supreme Court has ruled on it."

The pro-life part of the Republican Party never trusted Rudy. If I was one of the other candidates I'd be making speeches that Rudy thinks the People and elected leaders have no right to believe abortion is wrong. Or try to change it by law through their Constitutional privileges. ONLY if after in the next High Priest/Priestess changeout, with one of Rudy's pledged "strict constructionists" and if THEY deign to say maybe abortion should be a State matter - it again becomes a matter that concerns the Lower Masses of Americans.

While some say Giuliani was "smart" to hold the SCOTUS up as a sacred final word and what people believe no longer matters once the 9 lawyers dressed in robes have emerged from the Holy Temple and spoke to the masses in how It Shall Be...

I think most Americans do not worship the Court. Certainly not the Pro-Life movement. Court Worship tends to be a liberal, NYC kind of thing.

I'd run ads and appearances hammering Giuliani at every opportunity for showing his judicial philosophy - for indicating he appears he believes people have no more right challenging the constitutionality of abortion as decided law of the land, than challenging the unconstitutionality of the line item veto.

Lets just add

Seven Machos said...

Cedarford -- The line-item veto is a fantasy. It's unconstitutional. There are several ways to make it constitutional.

Luckyoldson said...

Revenant said..."Morons like Lucky and DTL..."

And just when I felt we were growing close.

Cedarford said...

Seven Machos -

I disagree. As JohnTaylor88 mentioned, Reagan constitutional scholars argued it is Constitutional if interpreted in the correct way. Same with Liddy Dole's proposal.
(Same with Bush, but whatever point Bush had was lost in his fecklessness, lack of leadership and follow-through about Congress needing to modify law so as to allow the line item veto to address the Court's concerns..)

JohnTaylor88 Romney explicitly referenced the newer versions of the line-item veto proposed by Liddy Dole and President Bush. Later in a Kudlow and Company interview, John McCain endorsed the new line-item veto bill also. Guiliani was playing games. Romney's point was that the idea was right-on, even if the language of the bill was wrong, and challenging that conception of Executive power, which Reagan supported and fiscal conservatives support, shows that Guiliani isn't as conservative as he pretends to be. Romney's argument wasn't that the Constitution should be disobeyed, only that Guiliani's attack of the line-item veto is hard to reconcile with his supposed fiscal conservatism.

The trick is to allow the President to act as a check on runaway government spending without "legislating part of law with a selective veto".

The current option, vetoing massive Omnibus bills that would harm Americans and cripple vital government functions if the Bill was killed in toto - has failed miserably.

Romney and McCain are "right-on". To allow America to root out waste, to function, to get a grip on a runaway, recklessly spending government and the unaccountable, untouchable by the nation's voters --- "Appropriators" of Congress ---we will either (1)Need the line item veto;(2)Pass a balanced budget Amendment over the dead bodies of Leftist Democrats and Porkmeisters like Trent Lott and Robert Byrd; (3) Wait for the Chinese to get a deeper grip on our short hairs until they finally get fed up, come in and thrash us about and order us to get our house in order like we used to do with bankrupt debt-saddled spendthift dictators of banana republics.

Seven Machos said...

if interpreted in the correct way

Cedarford, please show me in the Constitution where there is any support for a line-item veto.

You are a very strange bird. The Constitution says what it says. There's no line-item veto. And I would add that when you are relying on Elizabeth Dole as your constitutional scholar, your argument is pretty much horrendous by definition.

Seven Machos said...

And another thing, for you balanced budget people: is your budget balanced? Because if you have a morgage, a car payment, credit cards, or any lines of credit whatsoever, your budget ain't balanced.

I agree that there is runaway spending. I agree that the federal government should be cut dramatically. But, please, people: when you say that the government should be "balanced," you simply show your gross ignorance of economics. Economic growth is absolutely premised on borrowing money.

Joe said...

As of last month, my budget is balanced and in the black. (Though I am still trying to make up for retirement savings I didn't make while running my own business.)

Maxine Weiss said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24yQieBH5fo

Seven Machos said...

Joe -- I suspect that a big chunk of your investments are bonds and money-market accounts. These instruments are -- of course -- you lending money to others.

Revenant said...

Because if you have a morgage, a car payment, credit cards, or any lines of credit whatsoever, your budget ain't balanced.

That's not how a balanced budget is defined, Seven.

If you don't need to borrow money in order to cover your expenses, your budget is balanced. It doesn't matter if some of your expenses involve paying back previously borrowed money, so long as you don't need to borrow new money to balance things out.

Revenant said...

I see tc's back to link-whoring again.

I wonder if anyone ever even reads his crap.

Seven Machos said...

Rev -- When you get a mortgage for real estate, or finance a car, you are borrowing money. Period. You are borrowing money to cover expenses. Otherwise, you would buy outright. Borrowing money to pay for real esate and paying it back with interest over 30 years is fundamentally no different than borrowing money in the form of a treasury bill and paying it back with interest over 30 years.

I understand what you are saying, in the sense that we could start maintain an equilibrium or pay back the national debt by collecting more revenue than we spend. But this goes to my larger point: economic growth is fundamentally premised on financial lending. Businesses borrow on their accounts receivable; governments borrow on their ability to collect revenue (or, if you are Mexico, print money).

Can we agree on the larger point, that lending and borrowing are financially good and, in fact, imperative to a healthy economy?

rsb said...

repulicans shrumlicans. demo derby. it's all the same. vote for warren g. harding. it's all a sham anyway. Go Harding!

Seven Machos said...

RSB -- Isn't a "return to normalcy" the central theme of the Democrats?

Revenant said...

When you get a mortgage for real estate, or finance a car, you are borrowing money. Period. You are borrowing money to cover expenses. Otherwise, you would buy outright.

There are many, many things wrong with that.

#1: Just because you CAN buy something outright doesn't mean that doing so is smart. The cost of a mortgage is generally less than what can be earned by investments. If you have $500,000, spending it to buy a $500,000 house is probably a stupid move; you should put down only enough to get a good interest rate, then invest the rest. This is just one of many situations in which you might borrow money not to "cover expenses", but because you can earn a greater return on the money than you pay in interest. This is also why corporations issue bonds (i.e., borrow money).

#2: The only aspect of borrowing that affects your budget is the interest payment. It doesn't matter how much money you owe. You're confusing having a balanced budget with having a positive net worth. Your net worth is determined by your assets minus your debt. The balance of your budget is determined by how much you spend versus how much you take in.

#3: If you borrow $500,000 and use it to buy a $500,000 house, the net effect on your budget is $0 -- you spend $500,000, and received $500,000 in value. Your *future* budgets will be impacted to the tune of $3000/month or so -- but so long as you have at least $3000 in monthly income you can still balance that budget.

#4: An expense is something that causes a net loss in wealth. Paying $X for something with a resale value of $X is not an expense. Buying food or paying utility bills are expenses, because you consume those goods and are left with nothing. The expense associated with debt is the interest payment (minus the tax break you get from it).

I could go on, but either the above was enough to get the point across or the point ain't getting across at all. Suffice it to say that if you have the same net worth at the end of the year than you had at the beginning of the year, your budget is balanced.

Seven Machos said...

Rev -- I would suggest that the GDP of the United States -- its net worth -- goes up every year. Ergo, under your theory, the United States has a better-than balanced budget.

Joan said...

the GDP of the United States -- its net worth

GDP is Gross Domestic Product, the total value of goods and services produced. It's the sum of everything thing that's made and every value added. The only thing that's subtracted is imports. Costs, expenses, or liabilities (mixing terribly, I know, sorry) are not involved in the calculation of GDP.

Net worth, on the other hand, is total assets minus total liabilities.

In no way can GDP be interpreted to mean net worth. All a rise in GDP tells us is that the total economy is growing. It doesn't say anything at all about how balanced our books are.

hdhouse said...

With some middle of the night indigestion I watched a replay until I got really sick to my stomach. Of the lot I continue to like Huckebee the best so maybe he will be the VP nominee for one of the empty suits. Thompson looked embalmed. Romney looked like his father..Michigan's brainwashed silver fox...and Rudy's only solution to life's problems is to cut taxes. If taxes are what you pay for the privilege of services and a civilized society, then I can only assume Rudy and his buddies don't want the privilege and don't care about civilization.

I think I'm ready for Mike Bloomberg who is easily a better mayor than Rudy was. I dunno....but there isn't anything on the debate that even remotely is appealing.

hdhouse said...

Ahhh Rev and 7nachos...the econ 101 twins.

How does your economy work? Your personal one? You know when you make 100k and spend 103k. you borrow the 3k year after year and just roll that 3k into some account that you just pay the interest on. pretty soon that account hits the dollar amount you actually make in the course of a year so you create off balance sheet cash..the government calls it off balance sheet like 200 billion a year in Iraq related expenses...we might call them credit cards in personal life..and you live off of them.

To make you more efficient we are going to cut your income some...like a government tax cut so to make up for it you take out some more credit cards and perhaps a second mortgage (treasury sales?).

But you know you won't live forever so you just hope for timing so that you die just a day before the knock on the door.

Seven Machos said...

HD -- Huh?

Revenant said...

Ergo, under your theory, the United States has a better-than balanced budget.

The United States, in the sense you're talking about, doesn't have a "budget". It has a whole bunch of individual budgets, which on average do better than break even in any given year.

The United States government, on the other hand, has a budget, and it isn't pretty. I would say that the net worth of the US government is dropping like a rock.

Revenant said...

How does your economy work? Your personal one? You know when you make 100k and spend 103k.

So long as my income grows by more than 3% a year, I can afford to spend 103% of my income every year forever. Given the size of the American economy and its typical rate of growth the government could run a deficit of several hundred billion dollars a year forever.

the government calls it off balance sheet like 200 billion a year in Iraq related expenses

If you want to talk about off-the-book expenses the Iraq war is a trivial matter compared to the boondoggle the government has been pulling with Social Security over the last few decades. The government has "borrowed" trillions of dollars from itself and written itself an "IOU" for that amount. In a very literal sense Social Security is bankrupt; it owes trillions, has no assets, and is due to become revenue negative in a few more years.

hdhouse said...

well thank you. that makes eversomuch sense

Simon said...

JohnTaylor88 said...
"Romney explicitly referenced the newer versions of the line-item veto proposed by Liddy Dole and President Bush."

Yes he did. So what? So far as I know, neither Bush nor Dole explained why that version was any less defective than the original.

"Romney's argument wasn't that the Constitution should be disobeyed, only that Guiliani's attack of the line-item veto is hard to reconcile with his supposed fiscal conservatism."

It's not hard to reconcile at all, if one understands that the Constitution is real law and imposes real limitations on government, what it can do and how it can do it. You can't just say that the Constitution permits good stuff that you want and forbids bad stuff the other guy wants; it doesn't work like that. Is my being pro-life hard to reconcile with the fact that I don't think Congress had the power to enact the federal ban on partial birth abortion? Of course not. My recollection is that Guiliani didn't say he disagrees with Romney that the line item veto is a good idea, but that he said it's unconstitutional. And in any event, even if Guiliani had said he didn't think the line item veto is a good tool, it's a no true scotsman fallacy to say that someone who doesn't support the line item veto normatively can't ipso facto be a fiscal conservative.

Cedarford, you can't seriously blame the recent spending on the line item veto. You can blame Congress for passing it, or you can blame the President for not vetoing it, but you can't say that the problem was a lack of a line item veto that was first enacted barely a decade ago. There's just no basis for it, and even if it were true, it is irrelevant whether the line item veto is a good idea or not - as Justice Kennedy managed in a rare moment of actual (vs. attempted) eloquence in his concurrence, "[f]ailure of political will does not justify unconstitutional remedies." Justice Scalia is not infallible, and when he and Justice Thomas sign onto different sides of a case, one should not simply wave away whichever side Scalia didn't join. The executive already has ample authority to curtail discretionary spending (and to veto new spending of all kinds), and wouldn't gain like authority over existing mandatory spending -- which is the real problem, as several candidates pointed out -- by way of the line item veto.

Of course there are ways you can say that the line item veto is Constitutional - just none that an originalist or textualist can or should sign onto, Justice Scalia's dissent notwithstanding.

MadisonMan said...

Simon, I meant that no President should be expected to know who wrote what in a decision handed down by the Supreme Court.

Simon said...

MadisonMan - fair enough, but that being the case, what's your answer to James' question (9:26pm comment)? Viz., that if you're in the position of proposing that the President ought to have a power that the Supreme Court has recently said that the Constitution forbids, it's probably a good idea, and it's at least arguably necessary, to have some familiarity with what the court said in that case, a fortiori since everyone who wrote in that case is still on the court, including five members of the majority? Conceding that the President is necessarily a generalist, and even conceding, arguendo, that "no President should be expected to know who wrote what in a decision handed down by the Supreme Court" in the abstract -- I mean, a President shouldn't necessarily need to know off the top of their head who wrote what in any given decision handed down by the court -- but surely we might expect them to show some familiarity with a case that bears directly on something they're saying they want to do. Might we not say that whether or not a worker should be expected to know what their colleague is paid, they ought to know at least what their own pay is? Don't we expect greater familiarity with cases that relate directly to a proposal? If Romney was proposing a solomonic resolution to the abortion question, we might not expect him to be able to answer off-the-cuff questions about, I don't know, Tahoe-Sierra or Mistretta, what have you, you know, cases that may well be important themselves but that aren't relevant to the matter at hand, but we'd probably expect some degree of familiarity with the court's commerce clause jurisprudence, enough to answer questions about it, and we'd certainly expect familiarity with Roe-Casey, right?

MadisonMan said...

Simon, I suspect if Romney wanted to do that as President, he would assign an aide to find a way to make the argument for a consitutionally valid line-item veto. I don't elect Presidents for the legal acumen.

hdhouse said...

Romney has a law degree right?

Mortimer Brezny said...

My recollection is that Guiliani didn't say he disagrees with Romney that the line item veto is a good idea, but that he said it's unconstitutional.

And therein lies the game playing.

Romney was referring to post-Clinton v. New York legislative proposals that have taken Clinton into account and by all accounts are constitutional. Guiliani was referring to the line-item veto bill specifically struck down in Clinton.

And you still haven't grappled with the weightier part of my criticism of Guiliani, which is that he had no idea how the Supreme Court was going to rule in Clinton v. New York ahead of time, so knowledge of the unconstitutionality of the line-item veto can't be what motivated him to file the suit. There were plenty of Reagan conservatives who thought the line-item veto was constitutional and plenty of centrist Democrats who thought so as well. If you look at the date of the case, that puts Guiliani to the left of Newt Gingrich's transformation of American politics, to the left of mainstream Reaganite opinion, and to the left of Bill Clinton. And in direct conflict with Antonin Scalia. To say that qualifies as a conservative manuever, when it was on behalf of the liberal City of New York and cost federal taxpayers more moolah, is absolute poppycock.

Yes, Romney has a Harvard law degree, which he earned simultaneously with his Harvard MBA and never used.

Simon said...

"Romney was referring to post-Clinton v. New York legislative proposals that have taken Clinton into account and by all accounts are constitutional. Guiliani was referring to the line-item veto bill specifically struck down in Clinton."

As I said in my reply above, I've never seen any credible attempt to distinguish, the Bush line item veto specifically or post-Clinton proposals generally, from the veto struck down in that case, or that they're Constitutional. Of course, if there are such arguments, I'd love to read them; I don't have particularly strong views one way or another on the line-item veto as a normative concept, but from what I'm told about their effectiveness at the state level (including, indirectly, by Romney), they do seem to help, and I'm open to solutions that work. But I'm not open to proposals that violate the Constitution even on issues I think are terrifically important, and a fortiori on issues that I think represent nothing more than, failure of political will.


"And you still haven't grappled with the weightier part of my criticism of Guiliani ..."

You mean JohnTaylor88's criticism, because this is your first post in this thread unless you're using two names. Which is okay, I ask merely for clarification. It's nice to know who you're dealing with. ;)

"... which is that he had no idea how the Supreme Court was going to rule in Clinton v. New York ahead of time, so knowledge of the unconstitutionality of the line-item veto can't be what motivated him to file the suit."

I see; so I have no way to know whether something is unconstitutional unless or until the Supreme Court rules on it, right? Or is there some other, alternative basis for thinking about and reaching conclusions about the Constitutionality of a program? Or does the Constitution mean whatever it says in the U.S. reports? Come on. Knowledge of how the Supreme court will rule doesn't need to be motivation to file a suit; belief as to how they should rule will suffice.


"If you look at the date of the case, that puts Guiliani to the left of Newt Gingrich's transformation of American politics, to the left of mainstream Reaganite opinion, and to the left of Bill Clinton. And in direct conflict with Antonin Scalia."

... And in direct conflict with Steve Breyer. And in direct agreement with Clarence Thomas and William Rehnquist. And as to the other point, I don't know if it's necessarily false to say (which you don't) that it's a "left" viewpoint to oppose the line item veto, but I do think it's completely and necessarily false to say (which I read you to do) that thinking the line item veto is unconstitutional, regardless of its normative merits, is a position of "the left," a position "to the left of Newt Gingrich's transformation of American politics, to the left of mainstream Reaganite opinion, and to the left of Bill Clinton." Even assuming that the question of what the Constitution says can in any instance be considered a left-right issue, the suggestion that the Clinton majority was a "left" result is falsified by the voting lineup.

Mortimer Brezny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mortimer Brezny said...

I see; so I have no way to know whether something is unconstitutional unless or until the Supreme Court rules on it, right?

No. But this was an open question that no constitutional expert could predict. Some constitutional controversies are just that; controversies with no right answer.

Romney is certainly right to question Guiliani's conservative credentials for pursuing an open constitutional question that might result in a loss for conservative principles or favorable conservative outcomes.

the suggestion that the Clinton majority was a "left" result is falsified by the voting lineup.

Good thing I never and nowhere made this argument. I will note, however, that Rehnquist is not an originalist and Guiliani neither worked with nor singled out Clarence Thomas as the kind of judge he worked with and would appoint, like he has in the cases of Roberts, Alito, and Scalia. Moreover, Clarence Thomas is not a Reagan appointee, he is a Bush I appointee. The argument is not about conservatism generally -- for by the mark, Souter is a conservative -- but about Reaganite conservatism and the mantle of Ronald Reagan. We're talking Ed Meese-style originalist Reagan-era politics that Guiliani lays claim to, and his actions in Clinton v. New York are in conflict.

I do think it's completely and necessarily false to say (which I read you to do) that thinking the line item veto is unconstitutional

Except you keep making the same error that Guiliani made, probably for the same dishonest reasons. It certainly isn't a leftist position to adhere to Article I, sec. 7. I agree with Clinton v. New York on that basis, though I find Scalia's impoundment argument even more persuasive after Hein. But, the post-Clinton legislative proposals take the specific criticism of Clinton into account and are lacking the deficiencies of the line-item veto stuck down therein. To apply Clinton to any legislative mechanism dubbed a "line-item veto" is pure sophistry. Yes, to oppose conservative outcomes reached by constitutional means and favored by Newt Gingrich, Bob and Liddy Dole, Presidents Reagan and Bush, Ed Meese, and the National Review, where you can turn for an explication of its differences from the bill at-issue in Clinton, puts you at odds with the mainstream of the Republican Party and calls into question your claim to the mantle of Ronald Reagan. Yes, Romney exposed Guiliani as to the left of where he claims to stand, which, for the record, is to the left of Reagan, to the left of Antonin Scalia, to the left of Ed Meese, to the left of Newt Gingrich, and to the left of Bill Clinton.

Mortimer Brezny said...

http://article.nationalreview.com/print/?q=YTJhYTgyZjdkYjAwZDFhOGQ0YTEzYzYxNTMzZWE5ZTA=

Douglas Kmiec on this issue. (This is not the article explaining the differences between the old and new legislative proposals that I referred to; you can find that on your own, as it is perhaps over a year old. If I recall it was written either by Rich Lowry or Ramesh Ponnuru.)

Revenant said...

No. But this was an open question that no constitutional expert could predict.

Lots of constitutional scholars predicted the court would find the law unconstitutional. Your claim that they couldn't do so is without merit.

Some constitutional controversies are just that; controversies with no right answer.

I would argue that ALL constitutional controversies have no "right answer", since they all ultimately boil down to the opinions of nine people. But the fact remains that you can have an excellent idea in advance both of how those nine people ought to decide, and of how they will decide.

Simon said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"[T]his was an open question that no constitutional expert could predict. Some constitutional controversies are just that; controversies with no right answer."

And some controversies do have a right answer. I never thought of Clinton (or Thornton, for that matter, which can at least be attacked by people who disagree with it with a little more certitude since it didn't split Scalia and Thomas as Clinton did) as a difficult case, but even if you think it's a close call, one can without any doubt come to the conclusion that on balance, the stronger argument is that the Constitution does answer the question, and worse yet, answers it in a way you don't like. I want partial birth abortion banned as much as the next man, but if I'd been in Congress, I wasn't going to wait around for the Supreme Court to tell me whether FPBAA was beyond the commerce power: I have to make my own mind up to know whether to vote for the bill or not. If I just ignore that question and vote for it because I like the result it'll bring about, I don't belong in Congress or any other public office. I totally reject the argument that it is acceptable "to question Guiliani's conservative credentials for pursuing an open constitutional question that might result in a loss for conservative principles or favorable conservative outcomes." I just couldn't disagree more. I think that the Constitution always comes first, ahead of the needs of the moment, ahead of my political views or anyone else's, and ahead of the court settling the issue definitively. Of course it's to be preferred that we find that the Constitution permits conservative outcomes, but I think it's totally unacceptable for someone who takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution to say "I like plan X; in my judgment the Constitution doesn't allow plan X, but since it's an open question in the Supreme Court's jurisprudence, we're going to do plan X unless or until the courts say otherwise. At least if it's an open question, you are bound by oath to use your best judgment to asses what the Constitution says, and you abdicate that duty if you decline it for fear that it might mean not doing something you want to do.

Of course, if Romney thinks that Clinton was wrongly-decided, or that a particular variant that supposedly takes that case into account and elides the constitutional infirmities, that's obviously permissible. But I didn't see him make that argument. If he wants to swing by Indiana, I'll ask him. ;) The Constitution doesn't answer every question, but it does answer an awful lot of the most relevant questions. Conservatives sometimes strike me as being a little PTSD, as if they've been so scarred by the experience of liberal activist judges just flat-out making up a veritable fairyland castle of imagined constitution restrictions on the conservative policy agenda (to bastardize Scalia's line from Minnnick) that they seem to think that correctly construed, there just aren't any such restrictions. But it ain't so - just because the Constitution doesn't require a liberal result nearly as much as those dastardly liberal activist judges would impose on us, nevertheless, properly construed, sometimes the Constitution does require a putatively "liberal" result, sometimes it does prevent even a conservative from reach conservative results, and as Wechsler said, quoted in one of my comments above, we can't pick and choose, because "to take the benefits accorded by the constitutional system ... while denying it allegiance when a special burden is imposed ... is the antithesis of law."


Simon said: "the suggestion that the Clinton majority was a 'left' result is falsified by the voting lineup."
Mort replied: "Good thing I never and nowhere made this argument."


You said that the position advocated by Giuliani in bringing the case, a position essentially adopted by the Clinton majority, was "to the left of Newt Gingrich's transformation of American politics, to the left of mainstream Reaganite opinion, and to the left of Bill Clinton." I'm sorry if I misunderstood or misrepresented your argument, but it seemed to me that calling a position to the left of Bill Clinton is calling it an argument that's on the left.

"I will note, however, that Rehnquist is not an originalist...."

True, but his credentials as a conservative judge are unimpeachable, and in some ways, of course, Rehnquist was always free to be more conservative than an originalist could ever be (consider the Apprendi line of cases, for example).

"Guiliani ... [didn't] single[] out Clarence Thomas as the kind of judge he worked with and would appoint, like he has in the cases of Roberts, Alito, and Scalia."

Wrong: as President, wrote Giuliani in July, "I will nominate strict constructionist judges with respect for the rule of law and a proven fidelity to the Constitution – judges in the mold of Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito and Chief Justice Roberts." To be sure, when he first got into the race, he did an interview in which he omitted Thomas' name, but I think we should prefer the authority of a considered, written statement over extemporaneous remarks.

"To apply Clinton to any legislative mechanism dubbed a 'line-item veto' is pure sophistry...."

That's an amusing line to read since if you go back to the Clinton oral argument, there's sparring over whether the legislative mechanism in that case could be dubbed a line item veto (notwithstanding the name of the statute). I'm not going to say that it would be impossible to propose a line-item veto - under any name you like - that is at once consistent with the constitution and not superfluous that would satisfy the majority in Clinton, but I will say that I can't imagine a line-item veto that I would be able to agree was Constitutional and non-superfluous -- and ultimately, unless you're prepared to argue that Clinton was wrongly-decided, you're stuck in a situation where you either can't distinguish a proposal from the law in Clinton (in which case the proposal's unconstitutional) or you can distinguish it, in which case it's necessarily an open question and in which case see my first paragraph, above.

Lastly, I'll try to find the piece you referenced, but I find Kmiec's op/ed quite uncharacteristically useless - Kmiec can claim that Clinton "it is the handiwork of the liberal Justice John Paul Stevens" and that Justice Scalia's "bona fides as a constitutional keeper of the original understanding need no elaboration," but Justice Scalia is not always right and Justice Stevens is not always wrong, and this is one of those exceedingly rare occasions when it's so (some or perhaps even many conservatives would argue that the flag burning cases are another example of the same, and perhaps I'm misremembering, but I had thought Doug was one of them). Moreover, it's flat-out disingenuous for Kmiec to present Clinton as being a liberal result reached over conservative dissent - that is falsified by the presence of Justices Breyer and O'Connor in the minority and the Chief Justice and Justice Thomas in the majority. And whatever else can be said about Justice Thomas, it can be said with at least as much force about him as it can be about Justice Scalia that his "bona fides as a constitutional keeper of the original understanding need no elaboration." So the picture is considerably more nuanced than Kmiec's piece suggests to the reader who knows no better.

Mortimer Brezny said...

the picture is considerably more nuanced than Kmiec's piece suggests to the reader who knows no better.

So is my argument. I am not agreeing with Kmiec on substance. I think he's a nut. My point is that Kmiec is a Reagan-era OLC alumni and a Romney adviser, so the idea that Guiliani's position is reflective of that mold of converatism is questionable.

you're stuck in a situation where you either can't distinguish a proposal from the law in Clinton (in which case the proposal's unconstitutional)

No, I'm not.

And some controversies do have a right answer.

Not this one. Stevens's and Scalia's opinions are both plausible.

On Guiliani's pledge:

"When I worked for President Reagan as his Associate Attorney General – the third highest ranking official in the Department of Justice – I participated in the selection process for Federal Judges, United States Attorneys, and Marshals, working closely with Ted Olson, who went on to become U.S. Solicitor General and John Roberts, who is now the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The goal was to appoint responsible judges guided by a constitutional compass.

As President, I will nominate strict constructionist judges with respect for the rule of law and a proven fidelity to the Constitution – judges in the mold of Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito and Chief Justice Roberts."



Again, your lack of attention to detail. You are correct that "[t]o be sure, when [Guiliani] first got into the race, he did an interview in which he omitted Thomas' name". But you fail to read my claims carefully. I stated that "Guiliani ... [didn't] single[] out Clarence Thomas as the kind of judge he worked with and would appoint". That was not an accident. Guiliani did not work with Thomas, because Thomas was not a Reagan-era prosecutor or OLC guy. That is key to my argument. This is specifically about the mantle of Reagan, not about conservatism in general.

Lots of constitutional scholars predicted the court would find the law unconstitutional.

We must have a different interpretation of what predict means. I do not count a crazy person who says something that happens to turn out to be true. I do not mean prophecy. I mean being able to determine with certainty before a thing comes to pass based on evidence and reasoning. I think any constitutional scholar you would cite was admittedly speculating, and would couch her speculation in such terms.

if Romney thinks that ... a particular variant that supposedly takes that case into account and elides the constitutional infirmities, that's obviously permissible.

As I noted above, Romney specifically referred to two post-Clinton versions in the debate. In an interview after the debate John McCain agreed that the latter versions were constitutional and he supported them, disagreeing with Guiliani. This is the problem with Guiliani's game-playing. You can easily agree with Clinton and support a new line-item veto. What Guiliani cannot do is reconcile fiscal conservatism with his decision to deprive future Republican Presidents of the line-item veto so mayors of liberal cities can run up the federal deficit.

[I]t seemed to me that calling a position to the left of Bill Clinton is calling it an argument that's on the left.

At least Bill Clinton believed in balancing the federal budget. Apparently Guiliani believes in running it up.

Mortimer Brezny said...

And by "it," I mean the federal deficit.

Mortimer Brezny said...

And, for completeness' sake, I don't think there is any obligation to file a lawsuit claiming the unconstitutionality of a government act. Guiliani was making a calculated gamble on behalf of certain interests -- he reasonably and plausibly could have lost, and he knew that -- but those interests were not conservative interests. That is fair game for criticism by real conservatives.

BJK said...

While I was interested in the legal arguments in the line-item veto discussion, I think both candidates really missed an opportunity to win voters over by taking a position of leadership.

Instead of trying to argue about what part(s) of bills you would veto, why not vow to veto any omnibus / appropriatons bills which contain the kinds of earmarks and pork spending that all the candidates agree shouldn't be approved by the President.

It's a crazy thought -- and it might force the next President into standing his ground -- but by making the case now, taking the issue to the electorate and getting ahead of the issue, the Candidate could put himself in a position to actually cut wasteful spending, rather than just talking about cutting wasteful spending.

Revenant said...

We must have a different interpretation of what predict means. I do not count a crazy person who says something that happens to turn out to be true. I do not mean prophecy. I mean being able to determine with certainty before a thing comes to pass based on evidence and reasoning.

Predicting anything with absolute certainty is, of course, never possible. But predicting with high degree of certainty is entirely possible, and that's what I'm talking about here.

You apparently live in some Bizzaro World where the Supreme Court is like unto the Oracle of Delphi, and no mortal man may know in advance what proclamations it will make. Meanwhile, back in reality, the Justices us the same reasoning as the rest of us. The arguments for and against the line item veto's constitutionality were known in advance, as were the judicial philosophies and predispositions of the Justices.

Ergo an intelligent and educated individual could reason, from that available evidence, and conclude that the Supreme Court was going to throw out the law as unconstitutional. The fact that there were good arguments for its constitutionality is irrelevant. There are good arguments for all sorts of positions nobody expects the Court to actually accept (e.g., Raich's in Raich v. Gonzales or Newdow's in the Pledge case).

Revenant said...

At least Bill Clinton believed in balancing the federal budget. Apparently Guiliani believes in running it up.

Bill Clinton happened to be in office when the budget, due to larger-than-expected revenues, happened to balance.

But since Congress routinely denied spending requests from Clinton that, had they been granted, would have put us firmly into the red for his entire Presidency, the claim that he "believer in balancing the budget" doesn't pass the laugh test. He believed in taking credit for anything he could get away with; that's about it.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Predicting anything with absolute certainty is, of course, never possible.

Tell that to a batter .03 seconds before the 90 m.p.h fastball strikes him in the forehead.

Mortimer Brezny said...

predicting with high degree of certainty is entirely possible

And I doubt you have any constitutional scholars who swore off on the particular outcome and vote-tally in Clinton before the fact as anything other than speculation. Speculation is not prediction.

There are good arguments for all sorts of positions nobody expects the Court to actually accept (e.g., Raich's in Raich v. Gonzales or Newdow's in the Pledge case).

If you scroll up, you'll see that never claimed that Raich or Newdow were open constitutional questions.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Ergo an intelligent and educated individual could reason, from that available evidence

I do not think Clinton was such a case. Can you tell me what the outcome in ?Medellin will be? No. I think Clinton was similar in that respect.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Bill Clinton happened to be in office when the budget, due to larger-than-expected revenues, happened to balance.

And Guiliani happened to work for Reagan without actually being a real conservative.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I would also note that Paul Krugman worked in the Reagan administration.

Simon said...

"Not this one. Stevens'[] and Scalia's opinions are both plausible."

I realize that Ann thinks it's a wonderful dissent, and it's an unusual situation where anyone is more impressed with Scalia than am I, but I really found myself underwhelmed by his dissent in that case. And in any event, that there are plausible arguments on both sides doesn't deny the possibility of one being better, of one being more persuasive. In that case, the majority had the best of it, in my view.


Mortimer Brezny said...
"My point is that Kmiec is a Reagan-era OLC alumni and a Romney adviser, so the idea that Guiliani's position is reflective of that mold of converatism is questionable."

I don't think he's a nut, but he is wrong, in this case, and the writing seems tortured. There's a reason for that, as it turns out - I didn't even notice that he is, as you mention (and as the article concedes at the end), part of Team Romney. His testimony's bought and paid for. It's a lawyer defending his client. It's the house blog for a candidate defending and praising that candidate. It lacks the credibility of disinterest.


"What Guiliani cannot do is reconcile fiscal conservatism with his decision to deprive future Republican Presidents of the line-item veto so mayors of liberal cities can run up the federal deficit."

He absolutely can, unless, as it seems to me, you're prepared to argue that he opposed the line item veto on constitutional grounds merely as a proxy for his normative opposition to it. If that were so, then you might be correct. But if he believed that the line-item veto (at very least in the form then at issue) really was unconstitutional (and what basis do we have for concluding otherwise?), then I don't see how that's any more inconsistent with fiscal conservatism than my views on the limitations of Congress' power vis-a-vis abortion policy are inconsistent with my being pro-life. And in any event, having said that you might be correct if we have reasons to doubt Giuliani's sincerity, I'd come back to my 7:20 am comment yesterday that even if Guiliani really was and/or is opposed to the President having a line item veto, it's a no true scotsman fallacy to say that ipso facto, he isn't a fiscal conservative.

"But you fail to read my claims carefully. "

I didn't miss that, I just misunderstood the point you were making. Sorry.

"And, for completeness' sake, I don't think there is any obligation to file a lawsuit claiming the unconstitutionality of a government act."

At the most general level, I agree, I take a dim view of public law litigation, and would hope it's clear from my comments on taxpayer standing and Mass v. EPA that I take a relatively narrow view on standing, too. Nevertheless, I think there's an important (if concededly rarely-applicable) exception. Picture a public official bound by oath to support and defend the Constitution, who would have standing to challenge a law or action that injures them or that which is in their charge (for a mayor, their city and constituents, for example). In such a situation, I'd argue that if you're a public official in a position where you're entitled (so to speak) to bring a lawsuit challenging an unconstitutional practice, in that situation, you might well also be obligated to do so.

"At least Bill Clinton believed in balancing the federal budget. Apparently Guiliani believes in running it up."

That's an entirely separate issue, and thinking that getting into Giuliani's normative views on balancing the budget and measures to accomplish risks muddying the waters still further, I'm going to steer clear of it. ;)

Mortimer Brezny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mortimer Brezny said...

He absolutely can, unless, as it seems to me, you're prepared to argue that he opposed the line item veto on constitutional grounds merely as a proxy for his normative opposition to it.

Merely as a proxy for his normative opposition to it in that particular instance as a liberal mayor who wanted more federal dollars to spend for his liberal city, regardless of the externalities imposed. That is pretty much what Giuliani has said; he wanted the money for his city, that's what a good mayor does. Narrow-minded, short-sighted advocacy on behalf of furthering liberal means to further liberal political ends is not conservatism. It may be great mayoral politics in NYC, though.

On Kmiec's argument being bought, in that case Ted Olson's and Steve Calabresi's arguments on behalf of Giuliani are bought and paid for, too. Instead starting down a path of making every prominent conservative out to be a shill, I think the better view is that people affiliate themselves with public figures they actually agree with. Kmiec actually believes what he wrote. (Oh, and he is a nut.)

Mortimer Brezny said...

In that case, the majority had the best of it, in my view.

I don't think that means the outcome and vote tally were predictable ex ante, nor do I think that the opposite result would have been any less legitimate.

Gedaliya said...

Bravo gentlemen...excellent discussion.

Revenant said...

Ergo an intelligent and educated individual could reason, from that available evidence

I do not think Clinton was such a case.

I'll be sure to let you know when your opinion starts carrying weight with me. You stated, as if it was a fact, that the outcome of that case wasn't predictable. The actual fact is that the majority of scholars correctly predicted the outcome.

Can you tell me what the outcome in Medellin will be?

The court will rule against Bush.

Revenant said...

"Bill Clinton happened to be in office when the budget, due to larger-than-expected revenues, happened to balance."

And Guiliani happened to work for Reagan without actually being a real conservative.

That attempt at a cheap shot would work better if I actually believed Giuliani was "a real conservative" or was bothered by the fact that he isn't. I'm not "a real conservative" either. Giuliani's departure from the Republican norm on social issues is just one more reason to vote for the man, so far as I'm concerned.

JohnTaylor88 said...

The court will rule against Bush.

Bush isn't a party. And that isn't prediction, anyway. What's the vote tally going to be?

JohnTaylor88 said...

The actual fact is that the majority of scholars correctly predicted the outcome.

You have no such proof of this, at all. You don't even have any evidence that one "scholar" -- let alone a constitutional expoert -- even speculated about the case. You have adduced no evidence whatsoever to back up your mouth farts.

Revenant said...

Bush isn't a party.

Since you missed my obvious meaning, the court will rule that Bush's order did not have the force of law, and that Texas does not have to grant the people new hearings.

And that isn't prediction, anyway. What's the vote tally going to be?

The vote tally is irrelevant. Supreme Court rulings are equally binding whether they are made 5-4 or 9-0.

Revenant said...

You have no such proof of this, at all

You mean I haven't cited any proof of it. You're right. I don't plan to, either.

You don't even have any evidence that one "scholar" -- let alone a constitutional expoert -- even speculated about the case.

Google is your friend, little man.

JohnTaylor88 said...

Google is your friend

It's your argument. You come to debate with no proof, you lose.

JohnTaylor88 said...

The vote tally is irrelevant.

No. The vote tally is relevant to whether you actually predicted the outcome, or rather were correct by accident/coincident. Go to college, sir.

JohnTaylor88 said...

Since you missed my obvious meaning

Your argument had no cognizable meaning. It was speculative nonsense.