FROM: West Wing Staff
RE: Attached notes
Please file these contemporaneous notes of the latest budget negotiations. Marked CLOSE HOLD.
Present: POTUS, Speaker of the House, Mr. Plouffe, others.
POTUS begins by reminding SOH that government shutdown would be bad for everyone. Devastation, etc. Family vacations ruined by federal-park closure, sad kids, etc., etc. SOH reminds POTUS that his family never had vacations — too poor, etc. — but that he understands on an intellectual level that they’re important. SOH becomes emotional, asks for a moment to regain composure.
SOH returns to room and demands further cuts to Planned Parenthood and assorted other budgetary items. POTUS refuses to give way on several of them, but reminds SOH that there’s unspent census money that technically counts as a cut and they could simply call that the cut and have a drink and call it a day. SOH demands further cuts in Pell Grants and AmeriCorps.
POTUS counters that Pell Grants are sacred — provide college education for the poor and underprivileged. SOH recalls his own underprivileged upbringing — no one ever offered him a grant, or an AmeriCorps job. SOH becomes emotional. Sobs quietly for a moment.
POTUS hands SOH some tissues, reminds SOH that they still haven’t counted the unspent census funds. SOH seems cheered up by this, and demands those funds be counted. SOH then renews calls to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, high-speed rail, implementation of FCC Internet regulations dubbed “net neutrality,” and a collection of other programs and services.
POTUS replies that these cuts go too deep. Conversation gets heated. POTUS claims SOH and his party are trying to renege on crucial bonds between people, government. SOH replies that POTUS has outspent every president in history and has refused to cut even a small part of his budget. SOH reminds POTUS that the people are demanding austerity; POTUS responds that it’s not the people, it’s his people — the Tea Party and their ilk — who are demanding draconian cuts in a budget that contains necessary and effective programs. SOH excuses himself to confer with his colleagues.
They return to demand further cuts in public broadcasting, the Department of Agriculture, and foreign aid.
POTUS demands to know the full extent of SOH’s required cuts. Reminds SOH that in fact, they’ve already cut several billion from the budget when the census funds are added in.