Terry Paulson

My dream took form during a foggy morning drift on the edge of sleep. Planning the ratings coup of the decade, ESPN challenged President Obama to one final March Madness Bracket pick.

Unable to resist such an important priority, Obama cleared his schedule. Americans tuned in live as the host greeted the president and introduced his challenge: "Welcome to March Budget Madness, Mr. President. In the face of the budget impasse that has frustrated Washington for years, we're going to give you the opportunity pick budget bracket winners and losers in a way that allows you to propose a true CUT in spending for 2014. That's right, no decrease in the increase--a true CUT!"

Like a deer caught in headlights, the president looked around for a teleprompter to save him. He pleaded, "This isn't about picking the Final Four winner?"

"No, Mr. President. This is your chance to make a difference in the great game of politics. In the department store of life, sports is the toy department. True budget cuts is the top floor!"

"I don't think I want to do this...."

"Mr. President, we've isolated 16 departments that form your budget brackets. Our debt interest expense, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security aren't in the game; they can be tackled once discretionary spending is in control. Now, in order to actually propose a budget that truly CUTS discretionary spending, you get to pick winners and losers--winning departments get a 3% increase, and losers get a 3% decrease. At the end, the audience will have picked online the expense that will be docked $1. Yes, for the first time in decades, you'll actually CUT spending by $1 in 2014. Are you excited, Mr. President?"

"That's not the word I'd pick."

"Now, on to the Sweet Sixteen Discretionary Spending Brackets!"

Looking at his choices, Obama engages: "Our first game is Army vs. Air Force. The drones have it; I'll have to pick Air Force. Intelligence vs. Energy and EPA. My picks in solar have not gone well and terrorism is still out there; got to go for Intelligence. We have the Justice Dept and Transportation; got to go infrastructure--Transportation."

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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