I DON'T HATE Mondays, but this one would be hard to love. Foggy drizzle, remnants of filthy snow, potholes that would stop a tank, a briefcase full of things that I should have read over the weekend but didn't. I arrive late and irritable. The office is freezing, the desk piled with unfinished business.
I go over our first "inflation impact statement" -- a new responsibility of the office. We certainly got a doozie for openers: an agricultural bill which we calculate would raise food prices 9 percent. We are official purveyors of bad news to the Congress.
Next I review draft testimony for Wednesday on the effect of the Iranian oil stoppage on the U.S. economy. The draft is unclear, needs more work.
Bob Reischauer and I slosh across the muddy Mall through the barricade of parked buses (why does the company own so many extra buses?) past the tractors to the Regency Hyatt. We have been asked -- along with Charles Schultze -- to a "small, informal" luncheon discussion on the economy and the budget with a committee of the Governors' Conference. I realize too late that I should have prepared some formal remarks. The lunch is small, all right -- seven or eight governors around a square table -- but the table is in the middle of a huge room with klieg lights, cameras, microphones. Several hundred people have gathered to watch us munch corned beef sandwiches. There are no nameplates. Governors, like freshmen, get younger every year. I can identify only the governor of Vermont, who is chairing the session, and the governor of California, who is so personable I can almost forgive his wanting to write budget policy into the Constitution. In this setting, the normally effervescent Charlie Schultze is stiff and humorless. My own voice drones boringly into the microphones. Reischauer is only a little better. The pace quickens in the question period, but we are all glad to escape.
The sun is shining for the first time in a week and my morale is much higher. We could double government productivity by moving the capital to Arizona.
The morning is devoted to an information-packed staff briefing on the world oil and gas situation. I wonder why these guys talk so much more interestingly than they write, but I am reassured when the new draft of the testimony turns out to be much improved.
A phone call from the Senate Budget Committee precipitates yet another discussion with my staff about the economic outlook. The committee must decide on a set of economic assumptions to use for its budget decisions. Our forecast, published in January, is more pessimistic than the administration's. They ask for an update; it would make everyone's life easier if we could be more optimistic. We reexamine the most recent data. Investment orders are coming out a little higher than we expected, but housing starts are considerably lower. I call back to tell John McEvoy, the committee's staff director, that we will stick with out January forecast.
The best part of the day is a quick dinner with one of my favorite people, Allyn Kreps, Sen. Cranston's foreign policy aide, followed by "Richard II" at the Folger Theater. We chat about Iran, SALT; then the 20th century recedes as pathetic Richard disintegrates on stage.
Sen. Glenn's hearing on the economic impact of the Iranian oil crisis is scheduled for 10 a.m. Like most hearings, it starts late, which gives me a chance to talk with Glenn and the likeable new senator from Michigan, Carl Levin. Jim Schlesinger, the first witness, arrives tardy and grim-faced from another hearing. I need not have come so early, but wanted to hear his exchange with the committee. I begin to regret it as the session drags on under the hot, blinding lights. In what appears to be an offhand response to a peripheral question, Jim says he expects unleaded gasoline to go to $1 a gallon. The cameras whir and everyone knows that will be tomorrow's headline. My own testimony goes well enough and the questioning is friendly, sensible and mercifully short, because it is nearly 1 o'clock and everyone is hungry.
I have a sandwich at my desk before driving out to meet with John Toll, president of the University of Maryland, and some of his faculty, who are seeking my advice on setting up a School of Public Affairs. I try to be helpful. College Park seems remote from Washington.
Back to the Hill in time for a dinner with a group of congressmen who meet once a month to talk about the "future." Some of the liveliest younger members of Congress come to these sessions and the informal talk is fun. But this evening the formal program is overstructured and underfocused. I am glad to get home to see my daughter, Cathy, who has turned up unexpectedly from Swarthmore.
I drop Cathy at the Library of Congress, where she is working on her senior thesis, and spend most of the morning reviewing a manuscript on a curious tax loophole which allows states and cities to use tax-exempt bonds to finance mortgages on single-family homes. I never even heard of that one until a congressional committee asked us to study it!
After a good Italian lunch with Cathy, I brief a group of visiting German Bundestag members on how Congress deals with the budget. All but one or two are able to follow what I am saying and to ask informed questions in English. I am so impressed that I don't dare trot out the few phrases I have retained from the German course I took at Bryn Mawr in 1949.
My son, Douglas, doesn't have school on Friday, so I take him and his cute girlfriend out to dinner, then drop them in Georgetown for an evening on the town.
A balmy day -- no excuse for not jogging my usual 2 miles around the neighborhood. I am out of shape, but it feels good to run again.
I start the day meeting with a series of staff members who have just joined the organization or are about to leave for other jobs. The latter include a lively student intern, an energy analyst and our excellent librarian. As usual, I find myself regretting that I didn't get to know these people better before they left. The rest of the morning just disappears -- a congressman calls to ask me to make a speech, a committee chairman writes that he wants additional information, a staff member has a personal problem, a reporter has a question about one of our studies.
I take the subway to meet my friend and exhusband, Lewis Rivlin, for lunch near his law firm. We chat about his cases, the pressures on Congress, the doings of our children, and greet some mutual friends who try not to show their surprise at seeing us together.
The afternoon is devoted to meetings on studies we are doing for the Congress -- one on diary price supports, the other on landbased strategic missiles. Most of the time I find the variety of subjects exciting. Today I am tired, fighting a cold, depressed by the feeling that I have only superficial knowledge of a great many important issues and that most of the Congress -- not to mention the president -- must feel the same way.
I have a date with a good friend, Don Agger, for an embassy reception. His office calls to say he is running late and will meet me there. I have the wrong address, but am too exhausted to be annoyed by one more piece of misinformation. Several confusing phone calls later, we end up at a restaurant with some friends and Don has to put up with a less than sparkling dinner companion.
There is no urgent work to take home this weekend, thank God, especially since it is my birthday, and I feel a strong need for a restorative weekend doing absolutely nothing. My favorite birthday present is Doug's willingness to spend Sunday afternoon installing a dog door in the kitchen so our beagle can go in and out on his own.
A couple of good runs, conversation with the kids, and a superb birthday dinner with old friends are enough to restore my zest for life on Capitol Hill.