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."
"We have HUD vs. Departments of Agriculture and Interior. Got to go with Aggies here. State Dept. vs. Homeland Security. We're funding too many enemies; better focus on Homeland Security. Education vs. Veteran Affairs--we go Veterans and with the performance we're getting from our Education investments, vouchers are beginning to look better to me. I go for administrators at Treasury and Social Security over Commerce and Labor; it's time to free capitalism to spur economic growth. The final first round pick, Navy vs. Health & Human Services. We need those Marines and Navy Seals. I go Navy and cut the abuse in welfare payments."
"Brave choices Mr. President. Let's pick up the speed for the final rounds."
"OK, on to our budget busting brackets. It's Navy over Air Force, Homeland Security over Intelligence, Veteran Affairs over Agriculture and Interior, Transportation over Treasury and Social Security. The final four is easier. It's Navy over Homeland Security, and Veteran Affairs over Transportation."
"Who is the big winner?"
"Navy has had cutbacks the last few years, and the world is still dangerous. Veteran Affairs is getting some increases. It's Navy all the way!"
"Congrats, Mr. President. And, now, to reach a TRUE SPENDING CUT, Americans have overwhelming voted online to cut your vacation budget by $1."
It's only a dream, but don't be confused by all the talk of SPENDING CUTS. Neither the Republican or the Democrat budgets actually CUT spending. They only lower our INCREASE in spending. The private sector has done "more with less" because of drastic cutbacks. Any leader who can't get by with no increase in budget without impacting their mission doesn't deserve to lead. It's time governments make the tough choices instead of keep raising taxes!