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“If the president wants to reduce spending, then he needs to do much, much more than this legislation, which I believe is a cynical ploy to try and distract the American people from this administration’s terrible fiscal record,” he said.

Ever since the Supreme Court overturned a line-item veto as unconstitutional in 1998, presidents have sought to come up with ways to achieve the same end while not running afoul of the Constitution.

This new proposal relies on rescission authority that allows the White House, after receiving any spending proposal, to send Congress a bill that calls for specific cuts. Congress would have a set timeline to act on the bill, and it would have to hold an up-or-down vote, avoiding any Senate filibuster.

The amount of cuts is likely to be small, compared with the overall budget. A good indicator of the potential scope is the package of cuts the president submits each year with his proposed budget. That package typically runs between $10 billion and $20 billion, or about half of 1 percent of all federal spending.

Mr. Orszag said their approach answers the constitutional questions and puts pressure on Congress to scrutinize spending ahead of time, knowing that the administration now has a tool to force a debate on specific spending projects.

Mr. Bush released his own line-item proposal in 2006, just as he was beginning to feel the heat from his own party on spending.

His bill passed the House on a 247-172 vote, with 35 Democrats joining all but 15 Republicans in support.

Senate Republicans didn’t bring it to the floor that year, but a year later — after they had lost control of the chamber. They offered the proposal as an amendment to another bill, but it was blocked on the Democratic filibuster.

House Budget Committee Chairman John M. Spratt Jr., South Carolina Democrat, said he will take the lead in introducing Mr. Obama’s proposal in Congress, calling it “a step forward on the path to fiscal responsibility.”

Mr. Spratt led opposition to the 2006 Bush proposal. At the time, he said it didn’t include pay-as-you-go rules or earmark transparency, and allowed entitlement spending such as Medicare and Social Security to be subject to rescissions as well. Democrats have since imposed new earmark and pay-go rules, and Mr. Obama’s proposal excludes entitlement spending.

Still, Mr. Spratt was not the most vociferous critic that year.

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, the Maryland Democrat who is now majority leader, blasted the Bush proposal. He excoriated Mr. Bush for not using his regular veto powers and blamed Republicans for ballooning spending.

“It is a ruse, it is a fraud, it is a sham,” he said.

He also wondered why Congress would give up its authority.

“We are the policymakers. Article I,” he said, calling Republicans “a lap dog” for Mr. Bush. “We are a co-equal branch. We are not a branch to ask leave of the president to take action.”

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