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Obama proposes to curb spending bills. No more bridges to nowhere?

US presidents have long tried to obtain some form of line-item veto power. Obama's proposal could help eliminate pork-barrel projects, but it would also mark a big change in the balance of powers.

President Barack Obama shown in this photo addressing the graduates of the US Military Academy, in West Point, N.Y., Saturday, proposed on Monday to curb spending bills.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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In the name of budget discipline, President Obama on Monday proposed legislation that would make it easier for US chief executives to excise parts of spending bills they don’t like.

Such enhanced rescission power could help eliminate the pork-barrel projects that lawmakers append to must-pass appropriations bills, according to White House officials. But it would also mark a profound change in the balance of powers between the executive and legislative branches of the US government and thus may run into concerted congressional opposition.

Asked about the bill’s prospects in a Monday conference call with reporters, White House budget director Peter Orszag noted that some lawmakers already have proposed a similar move.

Lawmakers “who are most concerned about our fiscal trajectory ... are eager to look for tools that will help us reduce unnecessary spending,” he said.

American presidents have long tried to obtain some form of line-item veto power – the ability to strike single items from spending bills. Many state governors in the United States already have such authority.


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