WASHINGTON (CAP) - As the debate over President Obama's proposed budget for the next fiscal year heats up, the commander in chief is already making concessions to Republican leaders critical of his suggested domestic discretionary expenditures and tax increases. According to the White House, the president has agreed to remove a handful of line items, starting with Friday afternoon congressional pizza parties.
"Just like every family in America, the government would love to order out on Fridays so we don't have to cook, but we have to be realistic," Obama said during a press conference to announce the cut. "If we perhaps get some coupons in the mail or one of the local pizza establishments is running a special, we'll certainly reconsider."
Senate GOP leaders say the removal of the $100,000 annual pizza expense is just the symbolic tip of the budget iceberg and meant to show that there are ways to trim the budget without having to increase taxes on wealthy Americans. They note that by removing their own culinary desires in favor of letting wealthy Americans keep more of their income, the economy is likely to see a net increase in pizza spending, a move destined to be better for the country in the long run.
"The Democrats want a free lunch," said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). "However, Republicans want free beer and women. You tell me who is more closely aligned with the needs of the American people."
The news comes as a shock to Democrats, many of whom felt the president had already conceded to the Republicans by eliminating multiple toppings and allowing pepperoni only on the third Friday of the month. Late last year, Obama barred the ordering of extra cheese, calling it "superfluous" and noting that it's impossible to tell whether the pizza truly has "extra" cheese on it.
"Listen, it's not about the free food per se - I've got lobbyists offering to buy me lunch every day of the week," said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE). "But the local radio stations here are always running those contests where they give away free pizza parties to offices in the area - and we never, ever win. Not once.
"We just wanted to do a little something for ourselves, is all," Coons added.
Coons and a handful of other Senate Democrats have begun drafting a proposal that would reinstate the pizza lunches but save approximately 20 percent of the overall cost by cutting each pizza into ten slices instead of eight and requiring that all members of congress eat their crust before taking another slice. The move has already garnered the support of Vice President Joe Biden.
"I didn't just spend the past two years championing economic recovery only to have the rug pulled out from under my pizza," Biden said. "President Obama may be able to effectively lead this way, but don't expect any good decisions from me with a belly full of salad or re-heated leftovers."
CAP News sources say many Democrats fear that Biden's infrequent visits to the Senate chambers will become practically non-existent if there are no pizza parties to draw him there. They say they expect an increase in instances where Biden invites himself to lunch with congressional leaders and leaves before the bill arrives.
"Oh yeah, he's got that whole departure thing down to an art," said one source. "If I had a dollar for every time his phone magically rings and he says, It's the president - I have to take this, I could personally buy all the pizza myself."
- CAP News Staff