March 10, 1988

In my State of the Union Address, I said I would send back to Congress examples of spending items that are wasteful, unnecessary, and low priority, and that if I had a line-item veto I would have struck from the legislation. That list is being formally transmitted to the Congress today. I urge the Congress to review these items and rescind, repeal, or amend them as soon as possible.

The items I have chosen represent only the more excessive examples from the continuing resolution itself. I have not included fundamental policy differences, such as major program terminations, that I have with the Congress. Nor have I included the many earmarks that appear in the report language accompanying the appropriations. The report itself is never sent to me and, as the Supreme Court has said, has no force of law. In fact, I am directing all executive agencies to provide a full justification before they expend any funds to comply with these earmarks. And I am not including even more items tucked away inside the other piece of legislation I received in December, the reconciliation bill, that actually increase the deficit without benefit to the taxpayers.

I believe the American people can see by this exercise why I have consistently appealed for a line-item veto. We need to restore some discipline to our budget process. Does the Congress have the discipline to vote on these projects and take this next step?

As I have said, I have limited this initial list, and as a result -- while it will have an immediate beneficial effect -- it will not, by itself, solve our budget problems. I urge the Congress to take the necessary action on this limited list in order to avoid these unnecessary expenditures of taxpayers' dollars. It is another step on the road to a balanced budget, a demonstration in discipline. Perhaps, having taken this step, we can move even further.