Saturday, May 28, 2011

Budgeting for Time

B: I know you hate it when I talk politics

DI: Personally, I’m fascinated- it’s just that I can hear the torrent of readers clicking away in either boredom or outright political hostility

B: But now that 40 Senate Republicans have voted in favor of it, it’s long past time we talk about the Ryan budget.

DI: Okay. But as compensation for the good folks for putting up with you, we add in another scene in our Wonder Woman pilot script.

B: Fine.

DI: But first, because not everyone spends as much time plugged into the political debate as you, give us the basics of what the Ryan budget is.

B: In a nutshell, what this plan does, is carve about 3 trillion dollars out of Medicare and Medicaid, and hand out about 3 trillion dollars to corporations and the rich in tax cuts. It’s practically a straight swap.

There are vague murmurs in the plan to do things to offset the tax cuts, namely ending tax breaks, but given the general hostility to those measures in the past, anything that isn’t carved in stone and signed in blood is about as believable as the promise of a unicorn pony for your birthday.

DI: So you’re saying because it’s harder to do, it just won’t get done?

B: I’m stating that by not even listing which tax breaks he wants to end, Ryan is signaling, discreetly, that he doesn’t really want to end any of them. But what’s shocking is that this isn’t coming from some lone nut- it isn’t one of those Ron Paul ideas. Paul Ryan is the guy they put in charge of the House Budget Committee. Under the auspices of the Republican party, he drafted this budget, and 235 out of 239 Republicans in the House voted for this budget; and now 40 Republican Senators. If the party had their way, this would be our country.

Now, you can make the argument that maybe they didn’t read the bill, that they were just following orders, but is that really a better outcome? Either those representatives are incompetent, or they’re vicious, bordering upon evil.

DI: There aren’t any supervillains in this debate to punch- but I seem to remember you mentioning something else; your background is in business, so as a businessman, how does this look to you?

B: As a budget, the absolute worst portion is the fact that it caps revenue. Capping at a historical average doesn’t make sense. The cost of our military, and of our healthcare, and of so many functions of our government, have gone up. And more than anything, it’s the cost of health care that’s expected to cause future budgetary issues. We do have a revenue issue- caused in large part by the Bush Tax cuts. I’d like to share a graph, here.

DI: Okay. But you said yourself earlier in the year that everyone was going to have to sacrifice. Isn’t the Ryan plan what sacrifice looks like?

B: For the poor and elderly, yes. And if our budget were that dire, maybe everyone would have to suffer to that extent. But this is America, and we’re still the richest country in the world. By miles. Our economy is almost 3 times the size of China’s, and is about the size of the economies of the entire European Union.

It’s entirely within our grasp to balance our budget without cutting these programs to the bone. The Progressive Caucus in the House put out a plan that balances the budget in a decade. During that time, it would cut the debt by 10%. I don’t want to belabor this too much, but it goes far beyond just. I’m not even making a case for this specific budget- merely that this budget is far more logical and centrist than the Ryan budget plan, and that we needn’t behave like we’re going from a first world to a third world nation.

This argument is about a different view of America. The Progressive budget attempts to keep the country’s position as a leader, not just financially, but as a leader in technology and ideas. It’s about securing our place in this century, comparable to our place in the last. I have sons- adopted, yes- but I love them enough that I don’t want to give them a diminished America. The Progressive budget proves we don’t have to- certainly not to the extent Ryan wishes.

Look, I don’t care if people don’t think the same way I do, I don’t care if they come to different conclusions. But we need to think these things through. We need to know what it is we’re endorsing when we vote. The fate of our nation is very much at stake, here.

DI: All right, monkey, you’ve had your say, now dance for the people.

B: Uh, where were we?

DI: We’d just gotten through that first opening moment with the interviewer, and Diana’s impassioned defense of force.

B: Right.

DI: Interviewer
I’d like to switch gears. You wear a lot of hats- most of them tiaras- but how do you balance your roles?

B: Diana considers.

It’s mostly a question of need, and of impact. Sometimes it means I have to make difficult decisions. But thankfully, most diplomatic meetings can be rescheduled, whereas interventions can’t. I really feel bad for Etta; she’s the one who gets yelled at by foreign secretaries while I’m out saving people.

DI: Interviewer
Well, the reason I ask this is because recently you were involved in an incident. The so-called Wellys Affair. If the reports are to be believed, this even put you at odds with the vigilante knows as Batman. Would you like to tell us more about that?

We cut to daytime. Her punching you through that second floor window in the embassy- I’m sure you remember the picture, the one that was on the front page of USA Today, starting our story in media res.

B: Thanks for that. We see Diana look out the hole where the window used to be. She’s full of fury, in that instant after she threw that punch that cracked a few of my ribs. She takes a breath, and she’s suddenly calm again. She steps through the hole, and floats gracefully down to the sidewalk where I landed. A pedestrian, several of whom have gathered, helps me up. We stay in my POV, because we want me not to be the story. Her expression is pained.

I’m sorry for that. But the embassy is my home. I won’t let anyone remove a political asylum seeker from Themiscyran sole- not even you.

DI: But you can’t help yourself, can you? You choke out:

She’s a murderer.

B: I hope you enjoyed putting words in my mouth.

She’s under my protection. That’s all you need to know.

It becomes clear that the crowd isn’t just pedestrians, as several of the people begin asking Diana questions, and one of them starts taking pictures. One voice, a reporter we’re both familiar with, breaks through the crowd.

Lois Lane, Daily Planet. Diana. Are you saying, point of factly, that you are prepared to defend a murder suspect from justice, including other members of the League such as

Lois turns to gesture to me, but I’m grappling away. She turns back to Diana, hoping for an answer, but she’s already flying back inside the embassy.

DI: Wow. Now I’d buy that for a nickel. You think we’ve made enough story progression for a commercial break? After all, Wonder Woman is bound to sell mountains of tampons and panty hose. Do they still advertise panty-hose on TV? Am I dating myself with that?

B: We follow Diana back into the embassy. A young girl, Danielle Wellys, is terrified.

DI: You do have that effect on people.

B: Wellys
Is he gone?

DI: Diana
He won’t stay away. He can’t. I can’t protect you here indefinitely.

B: Not exactly what she said- but not a terrible guess, either.

Diana (cont’d)
So you need to tell me everything you can about Cale Pharmaceuticals.

DI: No way. Veronica Cale’s company?

B: You forgot, so far this is all based around something that happened- so we can use her name. And Cale Pharmaceuticals is just a tiny portion of Cale’s empire. But it was her first- her baby- and she takes its flagging business personally. She sees Diana’s successes as easy, and her own failures as tragic. In many ways, Veronica is the Lex Luthor to Diana’s Superman; but I feel for Veronica. Maybe because she hasn’t, to this date, committed massive atrocities against civilian populations. Though what she did to Kapatelis was a step in that direction.

DI: You’re getting ahead of yourself- and possibly spoiling things.
B: Sorry. Now we cut to a commercial break.

DI: All that build-up, to cut to a commercial?

B: Always leave the people wanting more, remember?

DI: Crap, that was supposed to be my line.

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