Most of official Washington has an opinion on everything (like the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act) even if they don't know what they're talking about (like the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act).
These days, everybody is talking about the law, which directs government to cut spending during the next five years and calls for automatic cuts if Congress and the White House lack the willpower.
Backers of the legislation say it will save the republic, and they say they have the data to prove it. Opponents say it will destroy everything -- and have the data to prove it.
Rep. Charles E. Schumer, a Brooklyn Democrat, is one of the opponents. He has been in Congress long enough to know that most members are obsessed with two things: losing weight and winning elections.
Capitalizing on those obsessions, Schumer has sent colleagues a copy of his new political diet.
By going for the gut, Schumer, who tips the scales at 205 pounds, hopes to show the folly of "unrealistic" and mandatory cuts, whether in eating or spending habits. Here, in part, is his Congressional Diet Plan, which is full of sly digs at some of the more complex requirements of the deficit reduction legislation:
"1) Set an . . . unnecessarily low weight target of 140 pounds. Subtract that from your current weight . . . . Divide the difference by a totally arbitrary number (say, 5) using it to come up with a series of annual targets. Since . . . you want to thin down for the November election, the targets should be set impossibly, for every other month.
"2) Try to meet the first target however you like. You may . . . sell off one of your kidneys to private entrepeneurs. That'll save a couple of pounds. Ideally . . . try to trim back through some combination of fatty food cuts and exercise enhancements . . . which, of course, is wishful thinking. When that fails . . . .
"3) Have scales at your regular eateries . . . . When the first target date rolls around, determine how far you are above target. Order your normal lunch. At that point . . . a waiter will come over and slice the correct percentage off each piece of food, regardless of nutritional content. If you are 4.3 percent overweight, the waiter will slice that much off your pecan pie and the same amount from your spinach.
"4) As a concession to buns and butter . . . the waiter is instructed to make half the cuts from foods recommended by the American Heart Association . . . and half from those recommended by HANG (Hardened Arteries Now Gang).
"5) Diet COLAs are required on every odd-numbered day and prohibited on the even-numbered days, except in February . . . . The requirements are so complicated that not even the diet's author can explain them in detail.
"6) You are permitted to shield your mother's cheesecake and broccoli from the waiter's knife -- broccoli because it seems like the right thing to do, cheescake because your mother is a constitutency too powerful to challenge.
"7) The first food cuts . . . are relatively easy to bear, but probably won't bring your weight down. Remaining cuts are designed to ensure that you meet your target . . .since you are probably still about 25 percent overweight. Sit down to your normal lunch. A waiter will slash the correct percentage off your body: 25 percent tummy, 25 percent thighs. The waiter will even cut your guts out, if it comes to that."