Budget Summit Dominates Capital Two T-Words Give Lawmakers Plenty of Reason to Be in a Fowl Mood - a Letter from Washington

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LIKE Gulliver towering over the Lilliputians, the budget summit dominates Washington. What's more, this joint Congress-White House production will remain largely dominant until the two sides reach agreement, likely months from now.

Participants in the this week's initial budget-summit meetings mostly agreed that a serious problem exists, which they all knew beforehand. But they didn't immediately discuss what to do to solve the rocketing annual deficit, which this year could reach nearly $200 billion. The first hours of discussion passed without anyone mentioning the three-letter word that transmogrifies politicians into Jell-O. It starts with T, ends with X, and politicians would rather pat porcupines than say it.

During the next few months a few issues may seize 15-minute slivers of attention from budget discussions - in late May the Bush-Gorbachev summit here in Washington, for instance.

But most subjects will stand only knee-high to the budget. That's the way it's been this week, too, although an uncommon number of significant issues also strove for attention, ranging from disability rights to civil rights to visiting foreign dignitaries. And from campaign reform to aid to Nicaragua to hunger in Ethiopia.

Word even surfaced of an early-June meeting devoted to American turkeys in a location where a flock of fowl syllables have been spoken over the years, the Caucus Room of the Cannon Office Building of the House of Representatives. The seventh of next month the National Turkey Federation will use the room to kick off Turkey Lovers' Month, which it has declared June to be.

This past week the House began considering something genuinely serious, the landmark disability rights bill. It is intended to protect the millions of Americans said to have disabilities from discrimination in employment, public accommodations and transportation. …


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