Chairman Bill's Big Blue Book

March 20 1998 3:30 AM

Chairman Bill's Big Blue Book

When did the federal budget become a polemic?

(Continued from Page 1)

The Presidential Initiative to Increase Seat Belt Use Nation-wide

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The President's Initiative on Drugs, Driving and Youth

The President's Education Technology Initiative

The President's 1997 Antiterrorism/Counterterrorism/Security Initiative

The President's America Reads Initiative

The President's Initiative on Landmines

This is truly a president whose eye is on the sparrow.

Depending on your mood, this is either irritating or laughable. But I cannot believe that it is helpful to the president. The incredibility infects and pollutes everything else in the budget.

These pages are filled to overflowing with the names of programs to be created or increased. Each of these has to have a name with Capital Letters, and every capital letter has to be part of an acronym. (My favorite is NEXTEA. Anyone who knows what that is should win money on Ben Stein's quiz show. Actually, it stands for National Economic Crossroads Transportation Efficiency Act.) The mind reels reading about all these good things that are being done for us.

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W hat one would like to see is some listing of programs that are being reduced or not being introduced. After all, to govern is to choose, and to budget is especially to choose. We cannot appreciate the reason for the things that are to be done unless we can compare them with things that are not to be done. Why do we have a Seat Belt Initiative and not a Smoke Detector Initiative? (Maybe there is a Smoke Detector Initiative, and I missed it.) True, there are some cuts in expenditures and personnel. They are all the result of what we used to call minimizing waste, fraud, and abuse and what is now called the Vice President's Reinventing Government Program. There are no identifiable places where anyone is asked to give up anything.

Well, there are two exceptions to that. The American people, especially young people, are asked to give up smoking--but to go on paying hefty taxes on cigarettes. By accounting maneuvers not worth describing here, this abstinence will enable the federal government to increase spending on a variety of programs, through an instrument modestly called the Fund for America.