Begin playing by choosing a banker; you already owe him some $250 billion for the coming year alone. You are also facing a growing S&L catastrophe and have deployed hundreds of thousands of troops overseas. You desperately need revenues. Unfortunately, you have staked your public honor on a frequently repeated oath not to raise taxes. To win the game, you must reconcile your needs and your promises, reducing the budget deficit by $500 billion over the next five years. The game's only rule is that if any other players or spectators actually see you moving, you lose. 1. You have astronomic public approval ratings. Don't move; it might threaten them. image: 2. You play horseshoes. Have a good time. image: 3. You reassess the deficit and discover you are even deeper in the hole than you thought. Blame Congress, demand a line-item veto and call for a cut in the capital gains tax. image: 4. The Hill, looking at the deficit and S&L costs, is restive about your budget. You hear about it during a news wrap-up while listening to a Statler Brothers special on WMZQ. Switch the station. image: 5. Check the polls. image: 6. You are invited to a function on the Hill. You consider attending dressed as a capital gains tax cut, but your staff tries to talk you out of it. Let them. 7. You decide you must after all renege on your "No New Taxes" promises. Consider reminding everybody that, hey, you always thought Reagan was engaging in "voodoo economics," anyway. image: 8. People reading your lips find them flecked with pork rind crumbs. Brush them off, will you? image: 9. You call for a budget summit. Say that there are "no preconditions," that everything's on the table. 10. Your chief of staff reassures the members of your party on the Hill that when you said "no preconditions," you did not exactly mean "no preconditions." image: 11. You say publicly that you did so mean "no preconditions." image: 12. He says that you did not mean it. Find out who your chief of staff is and try to get your stories straight. image: 13. The S&L fiasco grows worse. Make sure no members of your own family have anything to do with it. 14. The budget summit is about to begin. Whatever you do, don't tell anybody what, if anything, you think about fiscal matters. This is for the good of the country. 15. You state once again that, in dealing with the budget catastrophe, you are ruling out nothing. When asked whether you have privately ruled out tax increases, neither confirm nor deny it. 16. You find yourself saying that "tax revenue increases" are required. Have yourself examined for post-hynotic suggestion syndrome. 17. Political hell breaks loose {a chute?}. Arrange for a photo op with Millie the dog. 18. Your press spokesman explains that there is no problem in having said there will never be a tax increase and in saying there must be a tax increase. "He said the right thing then and he's saying the right thing now," says the spokesman. You add to yourself, "Figure that one out, Norm." 19. The market sags and there is increasing talk of recession. Talk to the secretary of state and see if the foreign policy news is any better. 20. Check the polls. 21. You need to make certain the budget summit succeeds. Set a pre-August deadline that cannot possibly be met. 22. People -- including your own aides -- would like to know if you have an economic plan or not. Tell them it's none of their business. 23. You suddenly remember the Other Party. To ensure smooth budget negotiations, deliver a speech lambasting the Other Party as "big spenders" and blaming it for this mess. 24. The leader of your party in the Senate says that, in fact, you will not accept tax increases. You disavow what the leader of your party in the Senate has just said. 25. Due to events in the Persian Gulf, the price of gas jumps 40 cents at the pump. Tell the big oil companies in no uncertain terms, "Guys, please gimme a break." Better top-off the golf cart and cigarette boat tanks, too. image: 26. Checking the cost of defending the world's oil supplies, you experience severe sticker shock. Pass the hat. image: 27. You finally come up with a budget deal. Celebrate with a bottle of Lone Star. 28. At least two important voting blocs -- sinners and the elderly -- are unhappy with the way you have handled Medicare and "sin taxes." Ask yourself, since there are so many country tunes about sinning, how come you're having trouble with this group? 29. A lot of people on the Hill, including the House Whip of your own party, hate the deal. Better have another Lone Star. 30. You go on television to preach to people about fiscal responsibility, asking them to pressure Congress to approve the deal. Just the opposite happens, and your budget director denies that you went on national television to ask people to do anything. 31. Congress rejects the deal. Show them who's boss. When money to run the government runs out, wave your fist in the air and close the zoo. 32. The members of your party in the House are desperate to know what your tax position is. Don't tell them, but note helpfully to reporters that, "My mind's been made up for a long time -- just need a little clarification." 33. You are asked if you are ready to give up on the capital gains tax cut. Point to your posterior and say, "Read my hips." 34. Check the polls. Uh-oh. 35. You and the Congress make another deal. Unfortunately, it contains few details. Go back to square one.