Memo To: The president-elect.
From: A friend.
Subject: Beware Washington Monument cuts.
Action Advised: Watch it, sir.
We here in the nation's capital have been hearing a lot of wild talk from the West -- like your plan to freeze all federal hiring. And make major budget cuts. Terrible things like that.
Sir, we get nervous when incoming presidents (as they do) say such things. You see, this is a one-industry town. We don't make cars, we don't plant 'taters. We don't plant cotton. Nearly 400,000 of us here work for Uncle Sam directly. The rest live off him one way or another. We like that $800 million the government pumps in every 30 days.
All of the above is why talk of freezes, and cuts, makes us nervous. Put yourself in our shoes for a minute. Suppose, for example, that the government years ago issued a warning that 20 Mule Team Borax, your old sponsor on the "Death Valley Days" TV show, caused baldness in women!What if the Supreme Court ruled that movies, like "Hellcats Of The Navy," cost too much. Get the picture (no pun intended)? "We are talking about daily bread.
Seriously, sir, you won and won big. Everybody in America, but Joseph Rauh and Hamilton Jordan, has accepted that fact. And congratulations. But nix the economy talk, or they (the bureaucracy) will throw a Washington Monument Cut at you. (By the way; we abbreviate everything here, so henceforth it will be WMC.) This is how it works:
Suppose you freeze, say, the Interior Department, or cut its budget drastically of just a little. They will get you! What they will do is say, okay, Mr. President, you want economy, you got it! Then what they will do, see, is shut down the elevator that takes tourists to the top of the Washington Monument. The monument is 555 feet high and the stairs are now closed. (When they were open, only idiots, Olympic athletes and 11-year-old boys ever climbed to the top, anyhow.)
When the elevator is closed, all those little old ladies from Tampico, Ill., and Beverly Hills are going to ask the guide at the monument what fool shut down the elevator. And you know what he will tell them!
Suppose the Justice Department doesn't like your hiring freeze. Know what will happen? New data on soaring crimes! Bankers demanding protection! wIllegal aliens arriving by chartered bus! Some official at the Atlanta federal pen is sure to leak to the press the fact that, because of your budget cuts, he doesn't have enough guards to guarantee that Mad Dog Kelly, the ax-murderer won't some day scale the walls and have at decent citizens and voters.
Suppose the Federal Aviation, Administration declares that for lack of air-traffic controllers, senators coming into National Airport will have to land blind. Or that members of Congress, for economy reasons, must give up their freebie parking spaces and be forced to park and pay like the rest of us? t
Frankly, I wouldn't put it past the General Services Administration -- if you whack it -- to close down public restrooms in all federal buildings everywhere. Your predecessor already has turned off the hot water.
Suppose the Postal Service says that for it to save money, you should come and pick up your own mail? Or it might sell stamps without glue!
None of this need happen, of course. It is up to you. We will wish you well. But take a tip from somebody who lives here: economy in government can be very expensive. Drop the idea and the bureaucracy will welcome you. Push it and you may not want to finish your first term.
If Barbara Walters were doing this memo, she might end it with this: "Mr. President, be kind to us. . ." Good advice.