NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 21, 2013

Are Congress' hearts two sizes too small?

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — I had about finished with my coffee before Big Freddy announced his entrance by stamping his feet as he lumbered toward our booth for our weekly get together.

“You’re late,” I said.

“Aren’t we all?” he asked as he shook out of his coat and bullied his way into his side of the booth.

“Christmas shopping?” I asked.

“Not yet,” he said.

“It’s the season to be jolly,” I said.

“Everywhere but Washington where they’re not all that happy about just making some history, but I’m working on it because the best of the shopping days are with us.

“It’s not only not snowing, it’s not going to snow hereabouts straight through Christmas.”

“You’re beginning to sound like the Grinch who stole it,” I said.

“Weather makers did a first class job by burying us with snow the week before,” Freddy said.

“That’s bad?” I asked.

“Bad for parking, and not too good for early shopping,” Freddy said.”But it’s really good for warming up the Christmas spirit. Reached all the way to Washington”.

“Money’s tight,” I said.

“Correct,” Freddy said. “Put the two together with good weather at hand from Sunday to Christmas evening, and it’s bargain time that should give it a boost. We needed a boost or two and we got them. Snow all over the place and something a lot better than a snow job from Washington.”

“Feeling good about something is uplifting. Christmas is about feeling good, and Congress just passed a bi-partisan budget, so feel good about that,” I said.

“Historic is what the budget is. First one in 27 years,” Freddy said.

“It could be a beginning of something,” I said. “It made a bunch of cuts.”

“And everyone of them is going to cause some bleeding -- not much, but some -- in a budget of 1.01 trillion for this fiscal year,” Freddy said.

“But there’s not much celebrating going on over it,” I said.

“Nobody in Washington likes spending cuts, which is why we are 17 trillion dollars in debt,” Freddy said.

“And no one knows what to do about it,” I said.

“Of course they do,” Freddy said. “It’s called kicking the can down the road which is going to be in mid-January when Congress has work over the spending plans so they won’t have to shut government down again.”

“That won’t be easy,” I said.

“It never is,” Freddy curve. “But give them a break. It’s been 27 years since they’ve had a budget. You remember who was president 27 years ago?

“Ronald Reagan was, and the Republicans ruled the Senate and the Democrats ruled he House, but they got along to go along.”

“We haven’t had going along to get along in Washington for too long,” I said. “Maybe this is the start of something.”

“I don’t want to be the grinch who stole Christmas, so let’s hope so. We don’t need that kind of snow job that looks great for a day or two before the dirt takes over,” Freddy said.

Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and a staff columnist.