Feds have $63 billion in spare change--the furry one has an open paw

Maybe it's a bit early to start spending a surplus that hasn't materialized yet. But
the Rat doesn't want to risk letting Congress do something silly, such as giving it back
to the taxpayers. He's been running his department on old cheese rinds for way too long.


So, figuring it never hurts to ask, the cyberrodent started drafting a wish list for
Santa Newt, who was so frugal with last year's budget.


Given $63 billion, the Rat could build one hellacious network control center. He could
even afford to reduce the flight risk for his underlings by aligning their salaries with
those in the flush corporate market.


Not wanting to act like a selfish, greedy little rat--one of his New Year's
resolutions--the furry one decided to ask around at his agency before completing the list.
Then he thought, why limit it to just his agency when so many other feds could benefit?


After all, the surplus is supposed to be big enough to give everyone a slice, according
to the Office of Management and Budget. But applying the leftover billions toward debt
reduction is a bad idea. The national debt would still amount to trillions of dollars, and
no one would have had any fun, reasoned the rodent.


The surplus in a way is a gift. And the best gift is something you would never budget
for yourself. So why spend the windfall on mere shortfalls? Why spend it on operating
expenses or other mundane things, when we could go years before seeing the next surplus?


Thus began the Rat's quest for worthy projects and programs that would produce results
we can savor long after the next stock market crash. Something opulent yet durable,
luxurious yet practical.


"It's time to build a bridge back from the 21st century," concluded the Rat,
"a bridge that will commemorate these last years of the 1990s while enhancing the
century to come."


For example:


The
centerpiece: a gilded, 15-story replica of Form 1040 with Schedules A and E, plus a W-2
form showing the total income and tax contribution of the American people. In front, a
fountain in the shape of a giant pie chart would represent the distribution of federal
funding, and a symbolic golden goose would be drawn and quartered in each slice.


For the next month, the Rat will accept other proposals from his loyal readers on how
to spend the projected $63 billion surplus. He will peruse the proposals and print the top
10 here, then forward them to the House speaker along with his endorsement.


Surely the cyberrodent can get an audience with the Grand Newt, or at least an e-mail
exchange.


And who knows? Maybe some of the winners will be funded.


The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets
in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@gcn.com.


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