S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My fantasy about the Summit . . .

Today, the day of the Budget Responsibility Summit, it is all about being responsible with our nation's finances. President Obama has promised to be candid and transparent about the nature of our current deficit circumstances. There will be no more budget gimmicks, he says that leave out expenditures, the entire cost of the Iraq war, for example.

The cost of the war in Iraq, just as I looked at my counter in the right hand column of this page, totals $559,442,770,o43. I am keeping track right now because the cost is about to become a whopping $600,000,000,000. It will be a milestone. Our President says that the current high outlays are temporary, targeted and timely. He also says that we have to make cuts elsewhere to entitlements and move toward a balanced budget. The latest reports say that our national budget deficit will run at 10% of GDP for a while. For these reasons, those of us who worry about the health of the U.S. economy get a little edgy.

The Summit is planned to begin talk about getting the federal budget under control, after this initial high outlay to stimulate the economy, which is bad and getting worse. It is worse than any time in decades. Business has slowed, nobody is buying much, workers are being laid off, credit is frozen and everybody is saving their money for the rainy day that is now here.

The people attending the Summit are now in their "breakout" sessions. A hundred members of both parties from Congress, administration officials and experts have come. Each small group will take a different subject, such as Health Care or Energy, for example. Somebody in the group agrees to take notes, usually a woman. And the Republicans will have the choice of whether to participate or not. Either way they won't make a difference. After figuring out the best answers, each breakout group will report back to the President and to the group at large later in the afternoon.

We all understand how it works because we have attended so many conferences at hotels or convention centers that had the same format. Traditionally, the President, the presider, would write the answers on a white board or a news print pad. He would take them home, write up the conclusions, and have them mailed out to the participants, who use them or file them away.

Does this sound like a strange way to run the government? Well, this is not the way the summit will be handled, of course, but the principles are the same. Get good people together who have vested interests in the outcome, break them up into small groups and do problem solving. It is the way things can work when grownups are in charge. Our new president is a pragmatic problem solver and these days he is about solving the nation's economic crisis. Organized, smart, driven, confident and capable, we could do worse for a presider.

As a matter of fact, we did worse for the past eight years. We had the Decider. And he and the rest of those in charge left a mess. So what does the old joke say you do in such a case? You ask, "How do you eat an elephant?" And you answer, "One bite at a time!" Gee, wouldn't it be nice if it were all this simple.

See also Behind the Links, for further info on this subject.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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