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To the editor:

Jeff Thredgold's statement (Forum, March 1), "Under our system of government, the president has no authority to spend money - that power rests exclusively with the Congress," is quite simply, incorrect.Under our system, appropriations, like most else, is subject to "checks and balances." Both Congress and the president are responsible for spending. Why would the leaders of Congress have spent months negotiating a budget agreement with John Sununu and Richard Doorman (both the presidents' men) if he had nothing to do with spending?

Throughout the whole process, the president is involved in spending our tax monies (and all that we're borrowing, too.) In brief, here is how appropriations are put together in Washington:

First: Federal agencies formulate their budget requests, and the Office of Management and Budget (an executive arm of the president) tells them how much they may ask for.

Second: These figures, and any revenue items, are used in the president's budget message to Congress.

Third: Congress considers the budget and prepares the various appropriations bills. Changes in the president's requests are certainly made in the House and Senate. But appropriations bills, just like others, must have the president's approval to become law, or his veto must be overridden by two-thirds of both houses.

This year, when we are voting for a president and most of the members of Congress, it is especially important that we citizens be correctly informed on the powers and responsibilities of our elected officials.

The often repeated argument that Congress is principally - or solely - responsible for spending and deficits is a convenience that shields the president from accountability. But it is not true.

Grant W. Midgley

Salt Lake City