THE PASSAGE OF THE BUDGET TO ITS VOTE.
Most writers on finance draw clearly a line between the preparation of a budget and the passage of a budget to its vote. In all countries where cabinet government prevails, or where the ministry is responsible to the monarch, and con sequently independent of the legislature, the preparation of the budget is a process distinct in fact as well as in theory from its legalization. Only in countries where there is a con stitutional separation between the executive and the legisla tive departments, and where all bills of all sorts take their origin in the legislature, is it difficult to maintain this distinc tion at every point. The present treatment of the subject has, however, endeavoured to conform to the usual course of analysis, and, as an aid to this end, has everywhere treated of the budget first as a report, and second as a project of law. That which claims the attention of the present chapter is the budget as a project of law, no matter by what means it passed from the first to the second stage of its development. The question to be discussed pertains to the most appropriate rules, parliamentary as well as constitutional, by which a project of law becomes an authorized bill for the raising or the expend ing of public funds.
26. Organization of the Legislature for Study of the Budget. The first question which presents itself in this con nection pertains to the organization of the legislative body for the study of a fiscal policy presented for its approval. In all countries of any size this organization takes place under some form of the committee system. In England the com mittees in question are the House organized as committees of the whole. In France provision is made for committees of investigation by the rules of the Chambers. In the United States standing committees have come to be a recognised part of parliamentary machinery. All the essential principles re specting the organization of parliamentary bodies for the pur pose of studying a financial policy will present themselves in connection with an analysis of the practice of these three countries.
(I) Practice in England. The initiative of all business in England is the throne speech and the address in reply. This speech is a part of the ceremonial remaining from the time when the monarch was in fact as well as in theory the centre of political power. It contains an estimate of the fiscal needs of government, and the first vote taken is that a supply be granted. This is neither amendable nor debatable except on the day agreed to. The vote is significant because it is a guarantee that the ordinary operations of government will not be jeopardized by political controversies. The formal vote of supply being passed, however, the House, by a second vote, appoints a day on which to resolve itself into a committee to consider the supply granted, or, as it is commonly called, a Committee of Supply. It is in this committee that the legis lative study of the budget, as distinct from the executive study which has been previously given to it, takes place. The ap propriations having been decided, so far at least as to deter in a general way the aggregate of expenditures, the House resolves itself into a committee to consider the ways and means of raising the money granted. This committee is called the Committee of Ways and Means. It is in connection with the session of this committee that the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivers his " budget speech." The organization of Parliament for the study of finance bills centres in the character of the two committees referred to, namely, the Committee of Supply and the Committee of Ways and Means. They are neither standing committees nor special committees. They are the House of Commons convened under the free and easy rules of a committee rather than under the stricter rules of a parliamentary body.
Nothing could be farther removed from an ideal adjust ment. The scrutiny of the budget ought to be committed to a small body of picked men who, by virtue of their experience and ability, understand the needs of the country and the prin ciples of finance. The procedure ought to be such as to invite study and avoid oratory, and it would certainly seem that the organization of the House into a committee freed from the stricter rules of parliamentary practice would prevent fruitful discussion and conservative deliberation. It is therefore something of a surprise to learn that the plan works well, but the fact that it works well must nit be accepted as commenda tion of the plan. The success of this manner of studying the budget testifies to the natural aptitude of the English for self government; it does not prove that it can be followed with success by other peoples.
It will add something to our knowledge of the subject if we inquire why this loose method of procedure succeeds so well. What is the secret of its success? To answer definitely, it works well because of the efficient organization of political parties, and of the potency of public opinion speaking through the leaders of those parties. Although as a matter of po litical right any member of the House of Commons may be present at the meeting of the Committee of Supply or of Ways and Means and participate in the conferences, as a matter of fact none but the leaders commonly attend, and none but the representatives of some party or some faction of a party ven ture to take part in the discussion. This means that the study of the details of the budget is committed to a set of men brought together by a process of natural selection, and pre sumably the men most capable and fit to deal with intricate subjects by virtue of their experience, their talent, and their political position. An inferior man, a new man, or a man who represents merely his personal views on matters of finance, would not be tolerated. He could not secure a hearing, for it must be remembered by one who desires to understand the English Constitution that a healthy Englishman is by nature impolite.
The method of procedure in the committees is as informal as the unwritten rules respecting the constitution of these committees are rigid. The discussion, especially at the initial stages, and when there is no great question of national policy at issue, is somewhat conversational in character. After the introduction of the budget it is in place for the opposition to ask questions, ostensibly to elicit information, but in reality to embarrass the government. The result is that any weak point in the policy of the government will surely be brought to light; and while the English ministry is very jealous of hesi tancy on the part of Parliament to sanction its estimates for expenditures, it has always manifested a willingness to modify its policy for raising revenue to meet the criticisms of either political friends or foes. The English method of studying the budget is not the product of design, but of an historical de velopment. It fits English character and conditions. It realizes the two essentials of a good organization, namely, a small body of experts brought together for free discussion, and so organized as to include all the interests which have a right to be heard on financial affairs.
(2) The Practice in France. The French method of organi zation as compared with the English is highly artificial. The Chamber of Deputies is divided into eleven bureaus or groups, the division being made by lot. Every legislative proposal is referred to these groups, where, according to the theory upon which they are organized, it will receive a cursory examina tion, and all general principles respecting it will be determined. Each. group then appoints a certain number of its members, who, in connection with members similarly appointed from the other groups, form a legislative committee. The duty of this committee is to study at leisure and in detail the legislative project in question. The number usually appointed from each bureau is one, which results in a legislative committee of eleven members; but in the case of the budget three members are appointed from each bureau, so that the Budget Commit tee comprises thirty-three members of the Chambers of Depu ties. It is in this committee thus constituted that the serious study of the budget takes place in France.
Does this adjustment commend itself to general confi dence? In the first place, it is said that the idea of a pre liminary or even cursory study of legislative proposals in the several bureaus is not realized in practice. Thus the theory breaks down at its most vital point, namely, as a plan which requires every legislator to study every bill. The bureaus have come to be in reality the machinery by which the effective com mittees are appointed, and judged from this point of view the arrangement seems of doubtful expediency. The bureaus, it will be remembered, are appointed by lot, and the most one can ex pect from a committee made up of representatives of bureaus so created is that it will reflect the average ability of the Cham bers. A matter, however, of such paramount importance to the nation as its fiscal policy should be committed to nothing less than absolutely the best talent and experience which the country affords.
The French system may do worse than commit the study of the budget to a committee composed of men of average ability; it may bring together men of decidedly inferior talent. It is conceivable that chance should throw the only eleven men preeminent as financiers into the same bureau, which would mean that three only out of the thirty-three members of the Budget Committee would be fitted for the task assigned. This is doubtless an extreme assumption, but it indicates what may be the character of committees made up_ of repre sentatives of bureaus chosen by lot. As against this criti cism it is urged that the Budget Committee is sufficiently large to guarantee, according to the doctrine of chances, that some of the best men will surely be included. This may be true, but the ideal adjustment is one which claims for finan cial questions the attention of all the best men and none of the poor ones, and that in the form of a small and compact body of students.
The criticism here noticed has been urged in France, and in 1887 the Budget Committee was chosen by ballot in the Chambers. The result of this experiment did not, however, seem to justify a permanent departure from the accepted rule, for the old method of appointing the committee was again resorted to the succeeding year. It should further be noted as a partial relief from the criticism urged above that the task imposed upon the Budgetary Committee is to study the detail of financial propositions " in order to facilitate general discussion." This differs from the polity in England, where the vote of the Committee on Supply or of the Committee on Ways and Means practically disposes of the question at issue. This is the important point in the comparison. The English committee feels responsible for its decisions, while the de liberations of the French committee are relieved from that sense of responsibility which attaches to a determining, if not a final, vote. While the French system may be conformable to French character, and so defensible from that point of view, it certainly does not meet the requirements of an ideal or ganization for the study of the budget. The committee to which the study of the budget is given over is not a small body, it is not necessarily composed of experts, and there is no guarantee that it will represent all interests which have a right to be heard. The determining discussion will probably, under such an organization, take place in the Chambers, a practice which will inevitably lead to corrupt legislation, because it invites bargain with factions in order to secure a sufficient number of votes to pass the main measure.
(3) Practice in the United States. At the time the Federal Government of the United States was created it seems to have been the accepted theory that legislation ought to be the direct product of the deliberation of Congress. The necessity of special organization for the study of special questions was not apparent, since the interests involved were less complex, the legislative body less numerous, and the questions presented for consideration fewer than at the present time. The com mittee system was regarded with jealousy and was of slow development. In 1802 there were but five standing commit tees in the House of Representatives, and it was not until 1816 that the Senate consented to a standing committee. The logic of necessity, however, proved stronger than a theory of government, and the committee system developed, until at the present time there are between fifty and sixty standing com mittees of the House, and over forty standing committees of the Senate, regularly appointed each session of Congress. It is not too much to say that the committee system of legislation is developed in the United States in its most extreme, and, as some of its critics assert, its most tyrannical, form.
It would seem from the fact that the legislative body is broken up into a large number of independent committees that this country conformed in a general way to the parlia mentary practices of France rather than of England. In form this is true. But when one considers the manner in which com mittees are appointed, and the influence which they have ac quired, they will be recognised as possessing a legislative character peculiarly their own.
It should be noted in the first place that all committees of the House of Representatives are appointed by the Speaker. But the Speaker is a member of the body over which he pre sides and owes his election to the votes of his fellow members. The election of a Speaker is one of the most significant events in the political history of a Congress, since it indicates with considerable clearness the colouring of the laws likely to be passed by the dominant party. It is well known before the election takes place who will be the chairmen of the impor tant committees. The Speaker is the leader of his party in the House, and must from the pressure of his situation appoint the strong men of his party to the leading positions. Thus party responsibility is recognised in the organization of Congress for the consideration of bills, a result which would be impossible should the appointment of committees be intrusted to chance, as in France.
It should in the second place be noticed that the chief concern of the Speaker as the leader of his party is to secure from the committees such reports as will readily be enacted into law. He cannot, therefore, in making up the committees ignore the leaders of the opposition, nor the re presentatives of any interests or localities which have peculiar claims to be heard on the question in hand. There is thus secured by virtue of political pressure what in England is se cured by natural selection, namely, a strong representative committee for the consideration of all important bills.
The third point in which the American committee system has developed a character of its own pertains to the degree of influence which these committees exert. Inizsmuch as the budget committees, appointed in the manner described, are sure to be composed of strong and representative men, all arguments likely to be presented in an open session of the House will find their clearest and most forceful expression in the previous sessions of the committees. This means that the serious study of the budget takes place in the_ committees. It is here that witnesses are examined, testimony taken, and the pleas of interested parties granted a hearing. It is here, also, that comparison is made between different measures, that con sideration is given to details of items, and that all questions pertinent to a sound judgment upon the project in hand are presented and discussed. As a matter of law no bill can be legalized without a vote of at least a majority of the Repre sentatives; as a matter of practice the laws upon which the Representatives may express themselves by vote are deter mined by the committees. The rules of the House require that all committee reports shall be considered in the commit tee of the whole. Any member of the House has at this time the right to submit an amendment, or indeed to propose a bill to be substituted for the report of a committee; but, so long as the committee retains the confidence of a majority of the party in power, no such amendment or proposal can influence legislation unless approved by the committee in charge of the bill under discussion.
The means by which the directing influence of the commit tee is retained are simple in the extreme. It is a rule of the House that no bill can be discussed until it has passed through the hands of its appropriate committee, and this gives to the chairman power to " kill " an irregular bill by refusing to report it. It is true that the House may order a report, but a motion for such an order will not be carried unless some con siderable portion of the party to which the chairman of the committee belongs are dissatisfied with his leadership, or are more interested in the particular measure than in preserving party discipline. When to this is added the custom that a member cannot gain the recognition of the chair to propose an amendment except he has previously made some arrange ment with the chairman of the committee it is pretty clear that the committee is complete master of the situation. That Congress should tolerate such tyranny (as some are pleased to call it) is perhaps its best justification. The truth seems to be that the committeee system is essential for the transaction of business. The guarantee against the too arbitrary use of this great authority is found in the fact that the chairmen of the important committees are the influential men in the party to which the people have intrusted the conduct of the govern ment, and as such they feel party responsibility. The chief concern with them is to secure votes for the measure upon which they have staked the future of their party, and this renders it highly probable that due consideration will be shown in allotting time for debate, and that legitimate in terests will be granted opportunity to be heard. It is doubt less true that the power of a dictator is granted the chairmen of the great committees, but it is a power that can, as a rule, be exercised only so long as it is not used in too dictatorial a manner.
A careful consideration of the political, constitutional, so cial, ethnological, and geographical conditions of the Ameri can people will, it is believed, lead the student of finance to ap preciate the committee system as well adapted to meet the peculiar needs of the American people. It conforms, so far at least as financial measures are concerned, to the three require ments of a good organization for the study of the budget, namely, a study of the budget by a small body of men, by a body of men who are experienced in political affairs, and by men who represent fairly well parties, factions, sections, and interests.
27. Should All Moneys be Voted Annually t—Having dis cussed the form of legislative organization we are prepared to consider certain other questions of parliamentary procedure which arise in connection with the passage of the budget to its vote. Important among these questions is the one which asks if all moneys should be voted annually.
(I) General Considerations. The point which here lies in controversy cannot be determined in a very definite manner, at least no answer can be given of such a sort as to be of uni versal application. The extent to which permanent appro priations may be used with safety (this being another way of stating the question) depends in large measure upon the stage of development at which a people have arrived in their realization of constitutional government. It is one of the lessons of history that the executive cannot be trusted to fix the amount and determine the character of public expenditures, no matter what the form of political organization, for such a concession would deprive the people, or their representatives, of any influence in the shaping of public affairs. Strictly speaking, it lies in the theory of constitutional government that every item of expenditure should be submitted each year for legislative sanction; and it is but reasonable to con clude that, so long as any uncertainty exists concerning the respective political rights of the government and the people, it is not safe to go very far in voting permanent grants of pub lic moneys.
Looking at the political situation as it exists among most peoples of Western civilization, the right of popular control over public affairs is so fully recognised, and the various checks upon the arbitrary use of public authority so well de veloped, that the necessity of an annual sanction for every item of expenditure has in large measure passed away; and it must be admitted that certain embarrassments arise whenever it is attempted to adhere strictly to the policy of annual appropria tions, and that it is for this reason that permanent appro priations are regarded with favour. It may be well to notice the character of these embarrassments.
In the first place, an unnecessary vote is a waste of time, and this, in view of the large number and great variety of questions presented for the consideration of the legislative body, is a serious matter. Permanent appropriations, there fore, are justified on the ground of economy. In the second place, it should be observed that the larger the number of items in the annual appropriation bills the less_ likelihood is there that adequate study will be given to those parts of the bills which need the closest scrutiny. Thus the importance of care in the consideration of questionable items suggests that at least those items respecting which no possible doubt exists should be provided for by permanent legislation. Of more importance, however, is the fact that, in the absence of permanent appropriations, the government would find great difficulty in making contracts which involve financial responsi bility—a result likely to be attended with serious conse quences, since it would render impossible the performance of many functions which lie within the legitimate sphere of government. It would, for example, preclude the con sideration of a system of public improvements, since the capital for such improvements must be collected by an issue of public bonds. It would, also, seriously embarrass a government in its attempts to make headway against such a fiscal emergency as is sure to arise in case of an expensive war. In any cir cumstances in which it is desirable to place at the disposal of government an amount of capital greater than its ordinary in come serious difficulties would be encountered should the ability of the legislature to guarantee payments for a series of years be in any way impaired. From the point of view of ad ministrative efficiency, therefore, permanent appropriations are highly desirable.
It may be said as against the last of the above considera tions that a sovereign State cannot be forced by legal means to regard its obligations, and that what is considered a per manent appropriation by one legislature may be repealed by the next. This is doubtless true, but it is also true that greater confidence is felt in a law which makes provision for an annual payment for a specified series of years than in the caprice of successive legislatures. One who has observed the financial history of free peoples must recognise that the moral sanction which among self-respecting democracies attaches to per manent appropriations when they are a part of a public con tract, either directly expressed or implied in the conditions under which the contract originated, does, as a matter of fact, give an added value to the promises of government, and en ables the State to enter upon many lines of activity, or to make headway against fiscal emergency, which would lie beyond its ability should every item of expenditure be voted upon each year.
The general conclusion to which the above discussion seems to point is as follows. In the first stage of the development of constitutional government—that is to say, so long as the question of the residence of control over public policies is still in controversy—permanent appropriations are not recognised as in harmony with the interests of the best national develop ment; but when this controversy has been settled through the substitution of popular sovereignty for proprietary monarchy the considerations which support the policy of annual appro priations are no longer pertinent. The practical question, therefore, seems to be, not whether permanent appropriations should or should not be used, but what class of expenditures may be safely and advantageously provided for by permanent legislation. On this point it may be well to inquire respecting the practices of the leading constitutional peoples.
(2) Practice in England. In England there has grown up quite a list of permanent appropriations, covering in the aggre gate2bout one-third of the total of annual expenditures. These are paid out of what is known as "the consolidated fund," and comprise at the present time the interest and principal pn the public debt (so far as the debt is paid through annuities), the civil list, pensions (civil and military), salaries and allowances to certain independent officers, courts of justice, and a mis cellaneous series of expenditures, including guarantees of interest upon the debts of certain foreign countries. The consolidated fund was created after the Revolution of 1688. A knowledge of the history of this revolution and of the century and a half preceding is to correctly in terpreNthe creation of this fund. It aimed to draw a line be tween the revenue of the king and of the nation. " The funds destined to the expenses of the crown became entirely dis tinct from those destined to the expenses of the State. This is the origin of the civil list." As time went on, however, other expenditures were charged to this fund, until at the present time provision is made in this manner for all obligations which rest on contract or arise on account of permanent in stitutions or definite demands.
The principle of permanency is carried yet farther on the side of income, the duty on tea and the income tax being the only sources of revenue which are now submitted to annual vote. This was also true of the duty on sugar until 1874 Four-fifths of the annual revenue of England is now provided for by permanent legislation. The question of permanency, however, is relatively of less importance when considered from the point of view of income than from the point of view of ex penditure, since it is in connection with appropriations rather than taxation that the policy of government is brought into the foreground. For this reason the permanency of revenue laws is not subjected to special consideration.
(3) Practice in France. In France the question of perma nent appropriations has been the subject of considerable dis cussion, but without any very definite results. It was urged by Mirabeau in the great debate of 1789 that no tax should be voted for more than a year except the one devoted to the ser vice of the debt and the civil list. In this form the idea failed to secure support, although in the Constitution of 1791 it is explicitly stated that " under no pretext shall the funds neces sary to the satisfaction of the debt or the payment of the civil list be liable to either refusal or suspension." In 1827 the matter was again brought forward for consideration in the form of a proposal 'that the budget should be divided into two parts, namely, the budget of the consolidated funds and the extraordinary budget, the former comprising all permanent and fixed services, the latter all new services and all charges of an accidental or temporary nature. The charges against the consolidated fund were to be permanent, and thus, according to the author of the proposal, the Chambers would gain con siderableqime, which might be devoted more advantageously to the examination of the new expenses. But this proposition was not adopted, and, as Stourm remarks, " the French budget continues to reproduce each year all those columns of figures which the ministers and chairmen of committees com ment upon without ceasing, only to accede at last to the inevitable grant." (4) Practice in the United States. The practice in the United States may be simply stated. Appropriations are di vided into three classes, known as " annual," " permanent an nual," and " permanent specific " appropriations, and the an nual appropriations embrace all not included in either of the other classes.j- The idea underlying permanent appropria tions in this country is about the same as in other countries. From the administrative point of view the definition submitted by Mr. Sherman when Secretary of the Treasury is perhaps adequate. He said: " The words ' permanent appropriations' should be confined to appropriations such as private bills, where nothing is left to executive officers for examination or inquiry except to identify the. party or to comply with some specific duty pointed out by a specific appropriation." From this it would seem that any expenditure of money fixed by the terms of a contract, or which occurs on account of an existing law and may be definitely calculated because the terms of the calculation are expressed in the law, or for assured compen sation to certain officers, may with safety be made exceptions to the rule of annual vote. In how far this generalization ap plies to the practice of this country may be seen from a state ment of permanent appropriations as they exist in the United States. They embrace the following objects of expenditures : First. Salaries of public officers not political, as judges of the Supreme Court.
Second. Salaries and expenses of officers whose duties are essential to the carrying on of the government, as the super visors at elections; salaries and expenses of collecting customs.
Third. Payments to institutions under the patronage of the government, as the Smithsonian Institution.
Fourth. Constantly recurring claims, such as overreceipts in taxes, drawbacks, errors, and the like.
Fifth. Permanent claims which are determined by calcu lation according to the terms of some explicit law, such as in terest on the public debt, the amount due the sinking fund, and the like.
None of the above payments can by any possibility come into political controversy, and under the practice of periodic elections it is not necessary that Congress should expend time in making these appropriations each year.
The chief difficulty in administration pertains to the inter pretation of " permanent specific " appropriations. The law upon this point is in the form of an exception to the general statement that " all unexpended balances of appropriations 'which shall have remained upon the books of the treasurer for two fiscal years are to be carried to the surplus fund and covered into the treasury." The language of the exception is as follows : " That this proviso shall not apply to permanent specific appropriations, appropriations for rivers and harbours, lighthouses, fortifications, or the pay of the navy and marine corps, but the appropriations named in this proviso shall con tinue available until otherwise ordered by Congress." The idea underlying this provision for permanent specific appro priations seems to be that a service approved by Congress, and of such a nature that serious damage would ensue from an interruption of work once begun, and of such a sort also that the time and conditions for making the expenditures cannot be fixed by law, should be granted an appropriation which, while definite in amount, is indefinite as to the time of expen diture. This is shown by the services specifically named in the law, as also by the practice of interpreting appropriations for public improvements, such as Yellowstone Park, Military Park, Fort Ethan Allen Military Reservation, and the like, as permanent specific appropriations. This is quite in harmony with Mr. Sherman's definition, in the communication already referred to, when he says : " A specific appropriation is one where the amount, or subject, or person is designated par ticularly or in detail. It may be and usually is permanent in terms because not limited as to time, like an annual appro priation." , Permanent specific appropriations, then, may be charac terized as appropriations for a service which would be endangered should Congress undertake to make any definite statement respecting the time or rapidity with which the moneys assigned to its support should be expended. It holds in a sense the same relation to the administration of public affairs that a construction account does to the administration of a railway corporation. The appropriation is not properly classed as current operating expenses. It is more akin to an investment of capital. For this reason also it appears that the chief question for the legislature to decide is whether or not a definite amount of money can be expended for the service in question, leaving the time and manner of expenditure to the administrative officers.
On the side of income all revenue laws in the United States are permanent; that is to say, they continue in force until by the enactment of some subsequent law, or by an amendment at some subsequent time, the law is repealed or its conditions changed.
From the financial point of view a serious criticism may be urged against this practice, in that it does not contemplate the annual adjustment of income to expenditure. In order to insure adequate revenue for all years, it is found necessary to provide a surplus in ordinary years. So long as a govern ment can expend this surplus in the reduction of debt, or in some other flexible demand, no serious difficulty, perhaps, will arise on this account; but should there be no means of ex pending in a judicious manner the surplus accruing in pros perous years its influence upon business conditions, as also upon current appropriations, will be decidedly injurious. Much better results would follow if one or two sources of reve nue were brought annually to the consideration of Congress, and the rate of taxation for each year adjusted in such a man ner that, added to the receipts from permanent revenue laws, the aggregate revenue should be made to conform to the ag gregate of appropriations. Reference has already been made to the fact that all sources of income in England rest upon per manent laws, with the exception of the income tax and the tax on the importation of tea. This is not due to any peculiar constitutional dangers that reside in these taxes, but these taxes are reserved for annual consideration and their rates are adjusted each year, so as to preserve a balance between annual income and annual expenditure. With the exception pro vided for by this consideration, the theory of permanent revenue laws must be approved. To extend this permanency to all revenue laws, however, results in loose appropriations and finally in the necessity of providing for an increase in revenue.
(5) Practice in Germany. The German people, who, from the point of view of constitutional. government, cannot safely go as far with permanent financial legislation as the people of England or of the United States, do, as a matter of fact, go much further. Provision for the army, for example, is made for a period of seven years, and in this manner practical con trol is given to the Emperor over all those varied services and far-reaching policies which in the actual condition of Euro pean politics are bound up with military authority. The ques tion at issue was put very concisely by Bismarck when, in 1887, he impatiently exclaimed : " Ought our army to be the army of the empire or of the parliament? This is the ques tion." With regard to other expenditures also, the govern ment enjoys guarantee that established institutions will be maintained. All that is left to the representatives of the peo ple is the limited right of denying grants for new services. From the administrator's point of view this is undoubtedly an admirable adjustment, since it insures stability in the military and the civil service, and without stability efficiency cannot be secured; from the point of view of constitutional govern ment, however, such an adjustment cannot be defended, since it regards the political liberty of the individual as of less worth than efficient administration.
The lesson to be learned from the practice of Germany is that permanency in the assignment of moneys to the various branches of the public service is one of the requisites of efficient administration, and it should be the ideal of those peoples who aim to develop popular government to so_strengthen the non financial checks upon the arbitrary exercise of powers as to permit an extension of permanent appropriations. England and the United States seem to have assigned greater impor tance in the adjustment of their budgetary methods to political liberty than to administrative efficiency. Germany,on the other hand, assigns greater importance to administrative efficiency than to political liberty. The ideal of the perfect organi zation is efficiency with liberty, and the rule for determining what class of expenditures should receive annual sanction, and what class should rest on permanent legislation, will be developed out of a conscious effort to harmonize these two conflicting interests.
(6) Conclusion. The foregoing survey of the practice of governments shows that the question of permanent appropria tions is in a somewhat unsatisfactory condition. The proposal which was rejected in France in 1827, that expenditures for new services should be the only ones to receive the approval of the current legislature, admits of many arguments in its favour, but a consideration of the kinds of expenditures which this would place outside of current parliamentary dis cussion shows it to be too comprehensive in its character. A newly established service should receive the repeated votes of successive legislatures before it can safely be regarded as among the established institutions of the State. The difficulty seems to lie in the fact that no scientific classification of ex penditure has ever been undertaken for the purpose of group ing together those which bear the same social significance, and, consequently, no general rule can be laid down. There
are some grants that should never be made permanent, be cause they pertain to services which, though constantly recur ring, do not recur under constant conditions. There are other grants which should not be permanent, because assigned to the support of an imperfectly developed branch of the public service, and if made permanent the future development of the service in question would be endangered. Such, for example, is the grant for the Interstate Commerce Commis sion. While the idea underlying the Commission may be accepted as sound, and the Commission itself accepted as a permanent institution, the law upon which it rests is so imperfect as to preclude the satisfactory performance by the Commission of the duties assigned to it; and it would be unwise to make the expense of this bureau a permanent charge before the principles of railway regulation are crystal lized into a rule for permanent practice. The question of rail way regulation in its present unsatisfactory condition should come annually before Congress for discussion, and the only guarantee for this is found in the necessity of annual appro priations for its support.
It is, on the other hand, an unnecessary expenditure of time to vote each year the expenditures for the courts. The judiciary is a fixed institution, and the amount necessary for its support is a matter of bookkeeping and not of policy.. This is a good illustration of a grant which in all countries may safely be made permanent. All expenditures which rest on contract, also, should, for reasons already stated, be permanent in character. This question of the permanency of revenue laws, like so many questions which arise in the Science of Fi nance, must be determined by each nation in view of the po litical, industrial, and social conditions in which it finds itself.
28. In What Form should the Budget be Voted?—It has been conceded that a budget should be presented to the legislative body as a complete and comprehensive document. It remains for us to consider what form the budget should assume for the purpose of a vote. So far as laws providing income are concerned, there seems to be little opportunity for difference of opinion. The discussion which has taken place upon this question pertains for the most part to appropria tions, the practice respecting tax laws being in large measure determined by the nature of the laws themselves. With re gard to appropriations, however, there exists the greatest di versity in practice. In some cases the appropriations are gathered into a single bill for the purpose of vote, while the separation of appropriations in such a manner as to require three or four hundred independent votes on the part of the legislature is not uncommon. The question in hand, there fore, is a pertinent one, and inquires if there be any principles by which an appropriate classification of expenditures for the purpose of vote may be arrived at.
Some light is thrown upon this question by the observation of Leroy-Beaulieu, who says : "The right of voting taxes bears with it two separate rights, first that of verifying the necessity of the tax itself,and second that of assigning the proceeds of the tax to a definite purpose "; and it will be at once conceded that any division of the budget for the purpose of vote more minute than is necessary to attain these ends will be the occasion of embarrassment to the legislative body. On this point those considerations urged above in favour of permanent appropria tions may be accepted as applicable to the case in hand.
Nowhere has there been a greater variety in practice than in France. In that country the appropriations were voted en bloc under the first republic and under the first empire; by ministries during the first part of the Restoration and the first part of the second empire; by grand sections at the end of the Restoration and once during the second em pire; by chapters in 1830, in 1853, and since 1869.
The practice of voting the budget by chapters has much in its favour provided these chapters represent some definite in terest. The danger, however, is that the divisions will be made so minute that the same interest or service will claim from the legislature several separate votes, in which case one is not sure in giving his approval to an appropriation what ad ditional sums may be necessary to make full provision for the service in question. This being the case, it is likely that such portion of a given service as first receives the attention of the legislative body will secure a larger share of the funds which may appropriately be granted than is justified by its relative importance. The same danger arises as between the several interests themselves, except they be combined in some com prehensive group of services. Nothing is more common than that ample provision is made for the service which first pre sents its claim, and that other services equally meritorious should find the funds exhausted before their claims are pre sented. This is the natural result where the legislature votes the budget in the form of a large number of unclassified chap ters. Such a method tends to destroy a just balance in appro priations, not only between various bureaus or departments which together make up the public service, but between the various interests that lie within the bureaus or departments themselves.
The custom of voting the budget en bloc or in a few grand sections is equally pernicious, since in this manner the vote is deprived of any definite and specific meaning and the ad ministration is largely freed from legislative control. This would be equivalent to the practice which existed in England, when the extent of the influence of the legislature over ex penditures was to limit the amount of money raised by taxes placed at the disposal of the sovereign for expenditure, a prac tice which existed in the American colonies also, previous to the adoption of the Constitution. Thus the second of the two rights which Beaulieu finds embodied in the right of the people to consent to taxes is practically, or at least in large measure, given up where money is voted en bloc. As the in terest of a well-balanced budget stands opposed to the voting of money by chapters, so the constitutional interest is opposed to the drafting of money bills by grand sections. The general principle seems to be that the chapters submitted for final vote should not include an aggregate so large that each vote fails to have a definite and precise meaning; on the other hand, that the appropriations should not be divided into so many bills as to endanger a just balance between the various lines of public service. The appropriate method must be a compromise between these conflicting interests, and each na tion must formulate its appropriation bills in view of its own peculiar constitutional requirements.
One suggestion a little more definite in character may per haps be submitted. In view of the way in which estimates are made, the budget on the side of appropriations will, as origi rally presented, conform to the organization of the govern ment for the purpose of administration, and there are many reasons in favour of the rule that a decisive vote in the legisla ture should conform to what may be termed the administrative classification of expenditures. This seems necessary in view of the fact that the appropriation of moneys for a future service is, in a sense, an examination of the manner in which money has been expended for a past service. Applying this sugges tion to the United States, the budget might adjust itself to the classification of expenditures recognised in " The Book of Estimates." That classification presents the estimates under the following heads: Civil Establishment; Foreign In tercourse; Military Establishment; Naval Establishment; Indian Affairs; Pensions; Public Works; Postal Service; Miscellaneous, including the District of Columbia.
In order to insure appropriate study of expenditures each of the above comprehensive services may be divided into a considerable number of chapters, each chapter representing some independent though subordinate interest. The votes upon 'these chapters, however, should not be regarded as de cisive or final, and so far as such details claim the attention of the legislative body should be considered in committee of the whole. By no other means is it possible to secure well-con sidered and well-balanced appropriations. This rule is laid down with some confidence since the thought which underlies it is in large degree realized by the practice of parliamentary peoples.
Among the embarrassments to sound budgetary legislation none is more serious than the attachment to general appro priation bills of an irrelevant rider. By a rider is meant an amendment to a bill, or a clause injected into a bill, which is foreign to its main purpose. It commonly represents an in terest so small or of so personal or local a character that it could not claim the attention of the legislative body if presented as a bill by itself. Being attached, however, to some important measure it receives approval, not upon its own merits, but because to disapprove it might jeopardize the passage of the principal measure. It may appear strange that an amendment which must receive the approval of the ma jority of votes cast can be attached to an appropriation bill, when in the form of an independent bill it would be unable to command support : and this could not be the case were the amendment in question the only personal or local interest which seeks enactment. The fact is, however, that there are many such interests, and where the parliamentary rules grant each member of the legislative body the right of amendment it is altogether likely that a majority of votes can be secured for a series of amendments through. a combina tion of interests that have nothing in common except their desire to be legalized. On this account general bills of public interest are frequently obliged to carry a considerable number of irrelevant riders.
The embarrassment occasioned by irrelevant riders is in large measure obviated in England by denying the members of the House of Commons the right of making amendments, the only amendment possible being to cut down a specific ap propriation. It is not even permitted to impose a condition upon the expenditure of moneys once granted. As has been already explained, the House of Commons approves or dis approves the bills for appropriation as presented to it. Should any member desire to make an amendment of importance, it is presented as a suggestion which may be accepted or re jected by the Government. In any case an amendment, ex cept one to reduce an appropriation, must be referred back to the Committee on Supply. In this manner full responsibility is imposed upon the Government. No government could stand which permitted irrelevant clauses to make a part of the general appropriation bill.
The method by which the evil of irrelevant riders may be obviated where fundamental law prescribes a separation of the executive and administrative departments will receive atten tion in the following section, which brings into notice certain propositions for modifying the American system of budgetary legislation.
29. Reform of the American Budgetary System. The evils of the American system of financial legislation are sug gested by the phrase diffused responsibility. This is in part due to the separation of governmental functions into three general departments, a form of organization chosen after much deliberation by the framers of the Constitution because it was regarded by them as the best of possible adjustments for a democratic people. In so far as the evils complained of are traceable to this source, it is futile to speak of a reform in budgetary procedure. The Constitution of the United States will never be amended as a result of any criticisms, however just, that may be urged by the Science of Finance. More over, there is a very respectable number of American citizens who see in the theory of balanced powers a higher ideal of con stitutional organization than can possibly be entertained by a government in which any one department shall have attained supremacy. This being the case, any suggestions for over coming the evils incident to the American system of budgetary legislation must content themselves with the idea of rendering effective the principle of responsibility under the conditions imposed by the American type of constitutional government.
(i) Enumeration of the Defects. It will add to the clearness of this analysis if a simple statement of the defects of the American system be submitted. From a consideration of the preparation and presentation of the budget it was learned that the principal evils arising in connection with financial legislation in the United States were as follows : First, that the Secretary of the Treasury is given no constitutional au thority to control estimates; second, that responsibility for the preparation of the budget is divided in the legislature; third, that, although legislative power is given to the Presi dent by the Constitution, he cannot bring his influence to bear upon a bill while yet in its plastic state. So far as other points considered in the previous chapters are con cerned, the American method of procedure seems to meet fairly well the requirements of sound methods of fiscal legisla tion. That is to say, we can approve the practice of the United States with regard to the date of the fiscal year, the rule of making estimates, and the form in which the budget should be presented.
The same general conclusion is arrived at when we con sider the passage of the budget to its vote. The formal part in fiscal legislation is, on the whole, worthy of commendation; but in the voting of the budget, as well as in its preparation, there is no adequate responsibility. Finance bills are reported from many unrelated committees and specific appropriations are pressed to their determining vote without due regard to the aggregate of expenditures. The right of amendment, also, which is almost unlimited, endangers the harmony of the bill, if indeed it does not threaten the integrity of its purpose.
(2) Consideration of Remedies. The evils that arise in con nection with the established practice of financial legislation in the United States being thus clear and definite, is there also a clear and definite remedy? Upon one point there can be no question. Since diffusion of responsibility is the chief source of the evils complained of, greater concentration of responsi bility must be the means by which those evils are to be over come. It may serve to emphasize this point, as well as to show that the difficulties mentioned are not fanciful, if the sug gested reforms which have been submitted from time to time be passed in review. In presenting this summary, the author avails himself of the concise statement of proposed reforms found in Dr. Adams's monograph already referred to.
" The first suggestion is that the various financial commit tees be united, 'so that there shall be harmony in budgetary legislation. The revenue and expenditure sides of the budget would be much more likely to be carefully balanced by one committee than by several. This suggestion would probably result in better business methods, but it would not in any way affect the main question of effective responsibility. It would insure a more careful consideration of the relation between taxation and expenditure, but it could not secure to the people any real control over either the extent or purpose of such taxation and expenditure.
" A second suggestion is that the number of the members of the House of Representatives be diminished and that the committees be chosen entirely from the ranks of the majority. It is urged that by reducing the number of representatives the number of voters necessary to elect a representative is in creased so that he is made a national instead of a sectional representative, with national rather than sectional responsi bility. This is true only to a limited extent. It might be pos sible to gain an improved responsibility in this way, but not an effective responsibility. The fewer the representatives the greater will be the influence of any one representative's vote in deciding national policy, and moreover he will be inclined to view questions from a national rather than from a sectional standpoint. But this does not alter the measure of his re sponsibility to his constituents in any degree. The second part of the suggestion is intended to make the party in power responsible for the propositions of its committees, but it does not appear how it will accomplish this result. Iii Congress to-day the majority in the House have a majority of their own number on every important committee. The responsibility of the majority is as effective under the present system as it would be if none but the members of the majority formed the committee. Neither of these suggestions touches the real trouble underlying the committee system of government.
" A third suggestion, which does recognise this evil, is that to the President shall be given the power of appointing the chairman and members of the committees of the House. The argument is as follows : This power could be given to the President without any radical change in the seemingly indis pensable committee system. It would, it is true, greatly in crease the power of the executive over legislation, but it would not be so apparent a change of the forms of government as to rouse the opposition of the people. It would bring to the voter the realization of his idea, at present erroneous, that in his vote for President he has a direct influence upon legisla tion. The President, by the appointment of members of com mittees whose ideas upon financial legislation agreed with his own, would become the one person upon whom the responsi bility for such measures would rest, and it is fitting that this should be so, since the President is the only officer of impor tance for whom all voters have the privilege of casting their ballots. The President is the only person from whom it is possible to obtain an effective responsibility.
" The suggestion is interesting as the only one so far which clearly recognises and attempts to remedy the lack of respon sibility in government. But it seems impracticable, failing to consider the possibility of a President whose political views do not coincide with those of a majority in the House. This may easily come about. Under such circumstances commit tees appointed by him, reflecting his views, could not possibly possess the confidence of the House, and no committee could hope to do efficient work unless supported by a majority. Such a committee would soon realize its dependence upon the majority, whose votes are necessary to carry out its proposi tions, rather than upon the President, whose power is limited to the privilege of suggestion.
" On the other hand, if the President, recognising the im practicability of appointing committees not in harmony with the majority, should lay aside his own plan for legislation and appoint the committee from among the members of the oppo sition, he would thereby make of no effect the result of the presidential election. He would thus cast upon the House a responsibility which, as has been seen, it is impossible to de mand from that body. The suggestion would be practicable only when the President and the House were in harmony. At any other time it could only result in continual dispute be tween the executive and Congress.
" A fourth suggestion is that the United States adopt the cabinet system. There are several forms of this system, but the central idea of each is that of a Ministry responsible to an elected House of Representatives, and remaining in power only so long as the Ministry and a majority of that House are in harmony. In case of an adverse vote in the House upon some important question, the Ministry must either resign office to an opposition party or appeal to the country for vin dication. The suggestion usually made is that the United States adopt, as far as possible, the English system; but what ever form of cabinet government should be selected it would involve a complete change in our institutions. The most im portant change would be the election of a President for a long term and placing him so far above ordinary party politics that he could interfere in no way in the conduct of national busi ness. He would merely be the one to whom the Ministry, on loss of power, should surrender office. His position would be similar to that of the President of the French Republic to day. The real head of affairs would be some member of the party in power who so far possessed its confidence as to re tain a majority in the House of Representatives. The Speaker of the House would become a presiding officer simply, for no one could at the same time discharge the duties of Speaker and Premier. Elections would not take place at regular in tervals, but on occasion of an appeal to the country. The Senate could be left as it is now and would in some measure serve as a check upon too hasty legislation, but even then the introduction of the system would necessitate both radical and minute changes in the present government.
"This suggestion involves much more than the mere reform of budgetary rules, yet it is of importance for laying stress upon effective responsibility to the voters of the country, and it is difficult to see how the real control of the purse can be secured to the people without at the same time securing to them control of all questions of legislation. The most effec tive argument against the cabinet system is the doubt whether it is adapted to conditions in the United States.
" Still another suggestion likewise (met) to remedy the lack of responsibility is that of the Socialists. They demand that the offices of President and Vice-President, and the Senate, he abolished and that the government be carried on by an Executive Board elected by the House of Representatives. They propose also that all laws of importance shall be pre sented to the people for their direct vote. It is evident that a Board so elected would correspond nearly to a Ministry hold ing office, while supported by a majority in the House of Representatives, under the cabinet system. The socialist plan preserves elections at regular periods, and in truth an executive body elected directly by the Representatives, while the cabinet system does away with elections at regular periods and makes the executive body dependent upon a majority in the House, though not directly elected by them. The essential idea of the two suggestions is nevertheless the same—that this body is made responsible to representatives, and representatives to the people. The same objection holds against both, though in a greater degree against the socialist plan; namely, that they involve a radical change in the present form of government. If there is a way by which the desired results may be obtained without change of institutions, or with less change, that way merits more favourable consideration." The suggestion of the author of the monograph from which the above quotation is taken is of interest. Three changes are advocated, and 'briefly stated they are as follows : First. The President and members of the House of Repre sentatives should be elected for the same length of time.
Second. The choice of presidential electors should be made by districts within the States, instead of by States as units.
Third. The President should be granted the right of ap pointing the principal committees in the House. " The first of these changes would render necessary a change in the Constitution, the second would require primarily a change in custom and might involve a change in the Constitution, while the third would demand a change in custom only." It is not necessary to consider at length the above sugges tions, since they involve a constitutional amendment; and in view of the history of the former changes in the fundamental instrument of government which have been made during the past century, there seems no likelihood that the American people would interest themselves in an amendment the only purpose of which is to overcome an evil in fiscal legislation. A practicable remedy must be one that can be worked out either by a more perfect organization within the executive and the legislative bodies, or by an agreement between these bodies which would be in harmony with the existing structure of the State. As a contribution to the literature of 'the subject, the following suggestion is submitted, which, it is believed, recognises constitutional limitations and will, at the same time, prove to be simple and effective. The object which it sets before itself is to heighten the personal responsibility of the President and the members of the Cabinet for fiscal legis lation, and to impose legislative responsibility upon the party in power.
First. The first step in this programme has already been suggested. It consists in the establishment of a budgetary committee which shall have full and exclusive jurisdiction over the form of the budget when presented to the legislative body for discussion and vote. This means that the Committee on Appropriations should be abolished, and that the duties which it now performs should be assigned to the Committee on Ways and Means, and that the right of other committees to introduce bills which either directly or indirectly legalize ap propriations should be taken from them. In this manner there would be established in the House of Representatives— this being the body which according to the Constitution has the exclusive right or originating money bills—a committee of undivided authority. Both sides of the budget, that of income and of expenditure, would be studied by the same set of men, and the danger of unbalanced appropriations would be greatly diminished by giving them exclusive jurisdiction, so far as projects of law are concerned, over all items of expenditure.
Two criticisms will immediately present themselves.
A budgetary committee thus organized, it will be asserted, is not responsible in the constitutional sense of that word; and it will further be urged that the duties thus imposed are so extensive and exacting as to render their satisfactory per formance impossible.
So far as responsibility is concerned, the criticism does not appear to be sound. It is true that resignation of the com mittee in case its projects of law are rejected in the House will not lead, as in England, to an appeal to the country; nor would such a result be logical, except in a country where the government is an administrative committee of the legislative body. It should, however, be remembered that the Constitu tion of the United States does require periodic elections, and that the party in power can only sustain itself before the peo ple by showing that it has performed the functions intrusted to it in a fairly satisfactory manner. This at least is the extent of the political responsibility which is possible under the American Constitution. Moreover, the responsibility which is needed to overcome existing evils is not so much the po litical responsibility to the voter for the policy underlying fiscal legislation, as the responsibility which will lead to a care ful and minute investigation antecedent to the expression of this general policy in a definite bill. If, now, the committee which we have styled the budgetary committee be intrusted with exclusive jurisdiction over the form in which all finance bills are presented, and if, in consequence, the right of the members of the House is limited to the acceptance or rejec tion of the bills as proposed, a mistake in the form of the bill comes to be a matter of party responsibility as well as a mis take in fiscal policy. The proposal suggested would result in making the great majority of the House of Representatives critics of a proposed measure rather than, as is now the case, centres from which independent measures may be projected. It would result in committee responsibility to the House; for, in case the committee could not agree upon a project of law acceptable to the House, it would of necessity resign, and make way for another committee which more perfectly re flected the desire of the party in power.
This of course brings up the question whether or not the Speaker of the House should continue to appoint the commit tees. On the whole it would seem wise to permit him to con tinue the exercise of this power, but he too, like the committee, should stand in jeopardy of a forced resignation in case his or ganization of the House for the transaction of business did not meet the approval of the body that elected him. The theory upon which legislation in this country was begun con sidered that all legislation should come directly from the legis lative body. The pressure of business rendered this impos sible and has led to the establishment of a committee system, and many of the evils complained of arise from the fact that this system is but half developed. The suggestion presented above rests upon the conviction that legislation by commit tees is essential to the transaction of the mass of business which presents itself, and the only purpose of the suggestion is to establish committee responsibility.
In further criticism of the plan suggested, it may be urged that the duties imposed upon a budgetary committee are greater than can be satisfactorily performed. This was the argument which led to the establishment of the Committee on Appropriations in 1865, but it may be doubted if Congress at that time sought relief for the Committee on Ways and Means in the proper manner. One acquainted with the usual methods of procedure is familiar with the fact that a con siderable portion of the time of the members of important committees is consumed with reading documents from pri vate parties upon private matters. Consider, for example, the amount of time consumed by the Committee on Ways and Means whenever a tariff law is under consideration. Con sider also the personal appeals from all sides that come to the Committee on Appropriations. Now, it is evident that these interests should be voiced, and that those who are intrusted with formulating a project of law should have presented to them all the arguments and considerations necessary to a complete understanding of the situation. It is not, however, necessary that this important committee, which, for lack of a better name, we have termed the budgetary committee, should give audience to all interests that claim recognition. The re lief from the excessive labour of a committee intrusted with the duty of presenting finance bills should come by a more perfect organization of the legislative body for collecting and sifting evidence, and a more authoritative organization of the executive department for presenting the needs of government. There are many committees, such as that on manufactures, on labour, on immigration, on currency, all of which are charged with the guardianship of interests that may be affected by financial legislation. Why cannot these commit tees act as the representative of the interests in question, hear the evidence, collect the facts, digest the testimony, and then present their respective interests to the budgetary committee? This would be a reasonable organization for the study of the budget, and the budgetary committee would then become in fact, as in France it is in theory, the organ for crystallizing the financial intelligence and centralizing the multifarious interests represented in the legislative body, as well as the responsible source of a definitely proclaimed financial policy.
Or again, looking at the matter from the point of view of the executive, a very considerable portion of the work now done in the committees of Congress might be done for them in an orderly and regular manner by administrative officials. Suppose, for example, a commissioner were appointed within the Treasury Department to hear evidence and collect infor mation touching the interests affected by a proposed law. It would follow, were the commissioner sufficiently wise to render his report without a colouring of policy, that the budgetary committee might in this manner, also, be relieved from listening to the importunities of interested advocates.
We cannot follow these suggestions further. They run naturally into the intricacies of administration and parlia mentary organization. Sufficient has been said to indicate a plan by which responsibility may be infused into the commit tee system of legislation, and to relieve our main proposition of the criticism offered.
Second. It further lies in this plan that the right of indi vidual initiative of money bills, as also the right of indiscrimi nate amendment, should be taken away from the individual members of the House of Representatives, whether the House be organized as a committee of the whole or in legislative session. In this regard the practice in England would seem to meet the requirements of appropriate organization.
Third. Passing now to the other side of the question, that is to say, to the budget in the hands of the administration, it will be remembered that no inducement is offered the ad ministration to formulate a governmental policy respecting either income or expenditures, and it is of course impossible that this should be established as bearing the stamp of legal authority without changing in a radical manner the existing political organization. While this is undoubtedly true, there is yet reason for believing that the report of the Secretary of the Treasury might be made a more dignified and important document, and that the position of the Secretary as head of the department might be made more influential within the administrative department of government, by means of a very simple resolution of the House of Representatives. Suppose, for example, the budgetary committee already provided for (or, indeed, existing committees) should pass a resolution to the effect that it would hold no communication respect ing finance bills with any member of the administration, or with any officer or employe of the executive department of government, except through the Secretary of the Treasury. This would result, first, in creating a definite administrative policy respecting financial measures. It would give the legislative body means of securing official information re specting the willingness of the President to sign a proposed bill in case it should be passed by both Houses of Con gress, and this would, in large measure, obviate the serious criticism upon the existing situation that the President is incapable of exercising the influence secured to him by the Constitution when it granted him the veto power, at the time when the finance bills are in a plastic state. It would open, also, an avenue of compromise between the executive and legislative departments of government which should be formally and openly recognised. Such a resolution, also, would tend to increase the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury in the matter of appropriations within the execu tive department itself. No practice is more effective in dis torting the minor details of appropriation bills than the prac tice of direct communication between the subordinate officers of the various bureaus and the members of the legislative body. Until this is done away with it is useless to look for the exercise by the Secretary of the Treasury of any conservative influence upon general appropriations. Such a resolution would give to him who, by virtue of his official position, re presents the financial interests of the nation an authority in the making of estimates which he does not 'now possess. It would go as far, perhaps, as it is possible to go under the pres ent political organization, or, indeed, as it is desirable to go, toward establishing an authoritative financial policy of the government.
An important consideration in support of the change in fiscal legislation above suggested is found in the fact that it would accomplish the result contemplated by those who desire that the President should be authorized to veto parts of bills, while approving other parts. This of course lies. outside the range of our present discussion since we have con fined ourselves to such reforms as are compatible with the existing Constitution. It is worthy of remark, however, that the advocates of the discriminating veto rest their arguments upon the prevalence of irrelevant riders to important bills. Now it is clear that the plan above suggested renders irrele vant riders highly improbable if not impossible, and on this account does away with the necessity of any constitutional extension of the executive power in legislative matters. This is a consideration which may properly be urged in support of the plan submitted.