If the White House budget-balancers think their job is tough (they do), wait until they hear from the monkey people, the school lunch ladies, the bus company, the birth control pill folks and the children's lobby.
That is just to name a few of the special and well-organized, interests thrown into the fiscal equivalent of the nickel defense as President Carter moves toward choosing budget cuts to fight inflation.
From their association offices and the bunkers of their tanks, the message they're sending out is clear and simple: don't target us, target someone else.
The theme they're taking to the White House and to anyone on Capitol Hill who will listen is that big dollar cuts will hurt the aging, the young, the schools, science, the cities and do virtually nothing to stop inflation.
Congress, for it parts, is having its own problems -- figuring out a way to balance a budget that can pass, while its legislative committees are submitting their budget proposals for next year and going the other direction.
These committees love the programs now on the White House chopping block. They created them.
So it is no surprise that some of the first authorizing committee reports submitted to the House and Senate Budget committees are generally higher than the fiscal 1981 budget President Carter now is intending to cut.
The House Education and Labor Committee, for example, has proposed spending $7.2 billion more than the president's original budget for next year.
The House Public Works Committee has not added up its figures, but staffers expect recommendations approved by the committee for airport development, highway construction and water-sources projects will be several billion dollars above Carter's budget.
The House Agriculture Committee proposed spending $298 million more than Carter requested. If food stamp costs rise as high as the committee has permitted in pending legislation, that could add another billion dollars.
Carter's moves to slash the budget come at a time when the interest groups were mobilizing to lay their cases for higher spending before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
The presidential push in the other direction has heightened their concerns and intensified their cries of anguish.
Take a look at yesterday's session of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for Labor-HEW, which was hearing the first of scores of public witnesses on spending for fiscal 1981.
With only one exception -- the antifluoridation lobby, which wants $9 million stricken from the the HEW budget -- every testifying group appealed for a higher appropriation than Carter proposed in the budget he sent to Congress in January.
Dr. Ronald D. Hunt, director of the New England Regional Primate Research Center at Harvard University, urged an additional 5 million for THE NATION'S SEVEN MONKEY RESEARCH CENTERS. without an adequate supply of monkeys, science is on the rocks, Hunt said.
Dorothy Mann of the National Foundation Planning and Reproductive Health Association, whose programs get birth control pills and information to women who need them, urged a $38 million appropriation boost over Carter's request. It is an exemplary cost-effective program, she said.
Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) listened to another witness, Kit Smith, who urged more birth control spending, and expressed the dilemma he and other legislators are in. "You want me to balance the budget and increase family planning by $48 million?" he asked quizzically.
"I'll give you more than a year to do it," Smith replied.
But the rumbles were being heard all around the capital, not just in the appropriations hearing rooms.
The American School Food Service Association, about 70,000 school lunch and cafeteria managers and supervisors, met in a four-day legislative session to map defeat of Carter's plans to save about $500 million by tightening school-lunch eligibility and increasing some children's lunch costs by 5 cents.
A similar skull session of the American Public Transit Association, which represents most of the country's systems, was being held to put pressure on Congress and the administration for more federal transit aid.
John Simpson, executive director of the New York City Transit Authority, said the top priority is to increase federal aid for transit operating costs. "Trains are full and buses are overloaded, and each of these passagers costs us money," he said.
Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund released a copy of a letter to Carter declaring, "If the drastic cuts which your administration is now considering to children's program occur, it will establish once and for all the hypocrisy of your professed concern about children and families in America."
Reports that the president will attempt to cut $900 million from education programs sent shock waves through the school lobby. "All education organizations are very concerned," said Charles Lee of the Committee for Full Fonding of Education Programs.
If House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill "is right and a $20 billion cut is only likely to reduce inflation" by tenths of a percentage point, "then do you throw out the baby with the bath?" lee said.
Similar protestations came from the Ad Hoc Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, which has already met with federal budget officials to protest possible cuts or ceilings on Social Security cost-of-living increases
Leaders of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Governors Association and League of Cities met with White House aides last week to "express concern" about rumored cuts in housing and urban programs. Some may fight them; others may choose to go along if they can have a say in how and where the cuts are made and if they aren't too deep.
Seven big-city mayors, including Maynard Jackson of Atlanta, Tom Bradley of Los Angeles and Coleman Young of Detroit, and six governors, including Ella Grasso of Connecticut and George Busbee of Georgia, and a half dozen state and local officials are scheduled to go to the White House today amid speculation that the cuts will be discussed and attempts made to get them to go along.