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Home-style budget crisis: Kitchen shutdown

Are Washington's ways of settling finances like my (fictional) marriage?

By Clayton Jones / April 8, 2011

President Obama leaves the stage as he finishes a statement April 7 to the media after an meeting with Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

(Credit: x99/ZUMA Press/Newscom)

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After my wife and I finished our tax returns this week, we knew it was time to reform our home finances.

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Here's how it went:

"I went to Bella's tea party last week," my wife said, "and boy, did that group convince me that we need to cut down our expenses!"

"Whatever happen to you bringing in more income with a second job?"

"Let's cut first, my friend, starting with your donations to NPR and those extra coins you give the homeless at the stoplight. Then maybe, only maybe, we can talk income!"

"Can't we have an adult conversation about this, and discuss cutting and income at the same time?"

"Don't get uppity political with me, chum, otherwise I'll shut down the kitchen!"

Our discussion went late into the night. Both of us had the kind of continuing resolution to somehow work this out, or at least appear to work it out. At times, though, each of us quietly pulled out a cellphone to check with friends and relatives to assure ourselves that we were in the right.

"I've decided," my wife finally stated, "that fundamental policy in this house must change. No more fees for the gym for you and only one night out a month with your friends."

"Wait, can't those cuts be only a stopgap measure until we tackle the big reforms, like you getting that job?"

It was getting late, and the threat of a kitchen-closing loomed – not to mention other unspeakable banishments and punishments. I was desperate.

"Maybe we should have our two families get together and have them settle this for us," I proposed. "Let our people guide us."

"That's it. Kitchen closed. Fend for yourself. Let's talk when you're good and hungry."

I didn't know what to do. I found a copy of our marriage vows, and read them again. Not much help there about finances. Finally, it struck me, the Big Idea.

"OK," I told her, "Let's do this: You don't need to get a second job and you can cut my expenses all you want. But from now on, I do all the cooking. The kitchen is mine."

"Sorry, the kitchen is not yours. I need it. The tea party group will be meeting here every week from now on."

So for now, I'm munching on power bars or eating at Mickey-Ds. And her tea party buddies have taken over our home.

Guess I'll go down to the Obama White House and get some advice.

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