For all the criticism by the Left of corporate corruption, nothing that goes on in even the most dysfunctional corporations matches business as usual budgeting in Washington. This week in my column at Forbes I present a few vignettes imagining Washington budget logic in a corporate board room. A sample:
Board Member: Let’s get started. After an absolutely disastrous year, financially, we’re now five months into our fiscal year and you still have not presented us with a budget for this year. Why?
CEO Obama: My staff was waiting until their employment contracts were renewed before we presented a budget.
Board Member: Excuse me?
CEO Obama: You remember — many of my associates in the company had their contracts up for review in November. They were afraid they might lose their job if you did not like their budget work, so they delayed introducing any budgets until after you renewed their 2-year employment contracts.
Board Member: That seems unbelievably deceptive and feckless. But let’s leave that aside for a moment. November was still several months ago, why have we seen no budget since then?
CEO Obama: Well, as you know, I have a number of rivals for my job in this company. I want to force one of them to suggest a budget first.
Board Member: Why is that? It seems to me it is your job as leader of this organization to define the budget, particularly given the unprecedented fiscal challenges we face.
CEO Obama: If I propose a budget first, everyone will just shoot holes in it. If I let someone else come forward with the budget, I can snipe at it and make my rivals look worse. In particular, I think that Ryan guy down in Finance may be dumb enough to create a plan. If he does, I can spend so much time making him look bad you will forget I never submitted a plan of my own.