In an undisclosed location in the White House, unnamed Obama administration advisers huddle to discuss the impending sequestration. No official transcript exists because (for the record) this meeting NEVER happened.
The mood was grim. The hot topic was a statement from Emily Holubowich, a lobbyist who represents a coalition of 3,000 nonprofit groups fighting the cuts, who accidentally spoke the truth to a Washington Post reporter: “The worst case scenario for us is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens!”
Adviser No. 1: Emily is right. What if nothing bad happens as a result of the sequester? The president is going to look like a doofus. He will be a laughing stock, the brunt of all the jokes on late-night TV.
Adviser No. 2: We’ve got to turn up the rhetoric. Send out Janet Napolitano to say that we will no longer be able to enforce immigration laws.
Adviser No. 1: We already did that, and besides, we’re not enforcing immigration laws now!
Adviser No. 3: We could not enforce them more.
Adviser No. 2: We can close the Washington Monument and the White House Visitors Center. That’s never failed in past budget standoffs.
Adviser No. 1: That’s not enough. The president said there will be real pain and there must be REAL PAIN! Remember, no pain, no gain for us.
Adviser No. 2: We can tell them TSA agents screening airport passengers will have to be furloughed. It will mean long lines.
Adviser No. 1: The lines are already long. Besides, if the agents are forced by time constants to stop groping grannies and toddlers, who is going to complain?
Adviser No. 2: Scare them. Tell them it means less air traffic controllers. Airplanes will be flying blind.
Adviser No. 1: Hell, Reagan fired all of them and there was barely a hiccup.
Adviser No. 3: We could limit the number of children who attend Head Start. When the going gets tough, hide behind poor children. That always works.
Adviser No. 1: The program is already a disaster. All the benefits are erased by the third grade. It might cause further scrutiny of this program, and, worse still, it might stir the pot for real education reform and increase the call for vouchers. That will bring the teachers’ union down on us. No, we’d better drop that.
Adviser No. 4: I know! Tell them it will cut out school lunches. Imagine the angst it would create among the nation’s poor parents!
Adviser No. 1: Another boondoggle! We’re spending so much on food stamps and other food assistant programs, folks are wondering why welfare recipients can’t take some of that free food and pack lunches for their kids. Better not hit that one too hard.
Adviser No. 6: Let’s stay on the subject of the poor. We can bring up the weatherization program for low-income homes. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu said it will mean up to 1,000 homes won’t receive free makeovers. Think of all those people who won’t get new drywall, calking and new appliances.
Adviser No. 1: Yes, but some smart journalist would point out that we could simply reduce the regulations that are driving up the cost of energy. Energy costs for the poor (and everyone else) would remain the same and we could save millions by eliminating this program. Also, that might trigger another discussion about all the money we’ve thrown at failed energy companies like Solyndra. No, no, that is much too risky. Let’s not beat that drum.
Adviser No. 5: I know. We can go back to scaring seniors. They know their Social Security benefits are safe, but if we could tell them there won’t be enough workers to process those checks and they might arrive late.
Adviser No. 1: At best we’re only talking about cutting less that one and a half cents on the dollar. That’s not going to happen unless we order the federal workers who process those checks to go to sleep at their work stations.
Adviser No. 2: Yes, but they already go to sleep at their work stations, and it would take an act of Congress to be able to fire even one of them.
Adviser No. 4: An act of Congress, hmm. What if, what if Congress acts in the 11th hour and gives the president “transfer authority”? You know, gives him the ability to pick and choose where to make those cuts in order to lessen the pain or eliminate it entirely?
Adviser No. 1: That would put the ball squarely in our court. We’d have to eliminate worthless programs. We could no longer reward our friends and get away with it. (Cringe) That would be a real disaster!
Advisers 2–6: Agreed!