USA Today reports that President Bush may soon match one of the achievements of Thomas Jefferson:
President Bush Thursday becomes the longest-sitting president since
Thomas Jefferson not to exercise his veto, surpassing James Monroe.
Monroe was in office 1,888 days before he vetoed his first bill on May
4, 1822, a measure to impose a toll on the first federal highway.
Jefferson never exercised his veto during two terms in 1801-09.
The end of the article has some thoughtful remarks pointing out that the threat of a veto can affect legislation, making the point that zero vetoes doesn’t necessarily mean supporting Congress’s desire to impersonate a drunken sailor:
Bush has used veto threats to shape bills more to his liking. For
example, the House wanted $370 billion for last year’s highway bill;
the Senate, $318 billion. Bush drew the line at $256 billion, then
compromised at $286.4 billion, more than he wanted but far below the
House and Senate levels.
But unfortunately, the article ends with a classic Washingtonism from the President or perhaps the reporter:
Bush said Tuesday that the veto threat has helped him reduce the rate
of domestic spending: "One reason why I haven’t vetoed any
appropriation bills is because they met the benchmarks we’ve set."
Missing from the first sentence, just before the colon, is the key phrase, "from what it would have been otherwise." Then there’s the key addition of the phrases "rate" and "domestic." But if you read the sentence a little carelessly, you might actually think that the federal government has gotten smaller under Bush’s watch. Not quite. The gory details are here. Lots of interesting information.