Magazine article Insight on the News

The Killer B's of Summer: Explaining the Baseline Budget

Magazine article Insight on the News

The Killer B's of Summer: Explaining the Baseline Budget

Article excerpt

Ah, summer: the beach, the best-seller, the beer, the barbecue, the box-office blockbuster, the baseline budget.

Although I have tried out these six classic ingredients of Washington summer in various combinations, I have so far been unable to figure out how to put them all together into one winning package. Certain combinations are obvious: beach and best-seller, beer and barbecue. But the big picture has eluded me.

I am prepared to concede that this may be the result of my own inadequacy. For example, in the hope of establishing a prudent personal financial management plan that would be adequate to cover, if only barely, our 7-month-old daughter's eventual college tuition, our family recently invested $2 in the multistate lottery Powerball.

Yet of the 12 numbers we picked for two tickets, we matched exactly zero of the six winning numbers. The odds against this happening are astounding, almost as great as the odds against President Bush throwing up on a prime minister in Tokyo, getting teargassed in Panama and going on to honk off so many Americans that they would elect Bill Clinton, thus making it necessary for me to discuss baseline budgeting. But here we are.

Anyway, for the benefit of all of you who have written in to say, "Tod, I don't get it, please explain baseline budgeting," I will do so. And for the benefit of the even larger number of you who have not written in but are embarrassed to admit it and pathetically claim that your letters must have been chosen for participation in the US. Postal Service's experimental Mississippi River Barge Delivery System, I will do so in the style of a summer box-office blockbuster based on a best-seller (That's three!):

Little Rock


          A film by
        Leon Panetta
         Tom Cruise
        David Gergen

Based on the novel

by John Grisham

The President (Gergen): We will reduce the budget deficit by $500 billion over five years.

Mitch (Cruise): White House salaries will be more than enough to pay for a new BMW This is a cause I believe in. I'll go to work there.

Later, Mitch is approached by a Republican.

Republican (Anthony Hopkins): You don't get it, Mitch. Things aren't what they seem. There won't be any actual budget cuts.

Mitch: What? …

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