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Mark Kirk: Paper Hat Patriot

By Kevin Robinson in News on Sep 3, 2010 2:05PM

Photo by n0nick.
10th District Congressman Mark Kirk, the Republican nominee for Illinois' junior Senate seat, issued his "Five Top Policies to Control Spending" Thursday afternoon. Kirk's proposals are summed up in five neat bullet points, including"

  • Enact a line-item veto
  • End earmarks
  • Require a supermajority to spend beyond our means
  • Enact Senator Simon's balanced budget amendment, and
  • Reestablish the Grace Commission with special procedures to implement approved spending cuts

Kirk's ideas are not without merit. However, they seem to ignore both the history of the United States Constitution and the reality of the times that we're living in today. The most obvious critique of Kirk's proposals is that the line item veto was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, in Clinton v. City of New York, where the Court found that line item vetoes violated the Presentment Clause of the Constitution, because it gave the President the power to unilaterally amend or repeal parts of statutes that had been duly passed by Congress.

The second problem with Kirk's proposal is that earmarks, which congressional Republicans have opposed, are set to be reinstated should the GOP retake Congress. Finally, Kirk's notion that a supermajority should be required to spend beyond what the government takes in revenue is already a reality - the current congress had (death and retirement aside) a supermajority in the midst of the Great Recession, and voted to pump federal construction dollars into the American economy in an effort to stave off the current economic crisis.

Those three factors alone, aside from the Grace Commission's recommendation that the federal government step up tax collection and the fact that 90 percent of the members of the American Economic Association surveyed in 2003 agreed with the statement, "If the federal budget is to be balanced, it should be done over the course of the business cycle, rather than yearly," suggest that Kirk is more in line with Democratic views on the economy than the prevailing GOP/Tea Party opinion should give voters pause.

While trying to reign in long-term federal deficits is indeed a noble cause, perhaps Kirk should take a hard look at what it means to say one thing when reality is completely different. Sadly, the Constitution does matter to the GOP, provided one doesn't actually pay attention to its details and simply fashions a copy into a tri-corner hat.