Habemus Papam! Habemus Budgetam?

By   /   March 13, 2013  /   No Comments

By Patrick B. McGuigan  | CapitolBeatOK

APTOPIX Vatican Pope

A NEW POPE: Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, on Wednesday. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

OKLAHOMA CITYHabemus Papam! We have a Pope!

My wife and I, both cradle Catholics, consider the quick election of a new Bishop of Rome a partial answer to prayer: We asked God for a quick decision, hoping that would be more or less a sign of unity among the leadership of the Church.

Time will tell if the new guy is an answer to the rest of our prayers: for an Orthodox shepherd who can reach out to critics (internal and external) of the Church without sacrificing his role as the steward of Faith and Tradition.

That’s the serious stuff. This is less so:

It is time for a real sequester in Washington, D.C.

Stay with me, here. You see, when the Cardinal Electors went behind closed doors at the Vatican and the Swiss Guards stood at attention outside those big doors, the men deciding on the next Pope were put into isolation – no contact with the outside world until they settled on a new leader.

No wonder they got the job done in two days.

When they went through those doors, they entered sequestration, a meaning of that word much older than the definition applied in Washington when automatic budget cuts were passed last winter and took effect a few days ago.

So, let’s get some real sequestration, at least for the sake of a budget from the Senate for the first time in years.

Make the president of the Senate, Joe Biden, and the president of the country, Barack Obama, attend Senate sessions until the senators brings forth a budget that actually prioritizes expenses.

As a matter of discipline — and because I’m the one writing this infallible commentary — no “revenue enhancement” is allowed this time.

After the U.S. Senate gets a plausible budget done, then Senate leaders (and the Senate president and the other president) have to go into sequestration again – this time with the House Republican leadership.

Food and water, sure: But nothing else goes in or out of the room or rooms where they are meeting. (There is a nice wing at the Greenbriar that could be adapted to this purpose.)

There is plausible precedent for this, at least in my corner of the world.

This week, the Oklahoma state Senate went into a rare (in fact, nobody could remember last time it happened) closed-door session. Word is they discussed Senate decorum, stuff like not using nicknames or saying bad things about one another during debates, and other things they like to do to make it clear — as senators like to tell reporters and constituents — “we are NOT the House.”

Niceness is a worthy objective, but when I saw pictures of a guard standing in front of the closed Senate doors, I could not help but think, “Who the hell do they think they are, papal electors?”

Oklahoma’s Senate “sequestration” lasted only 30 minutes. And, I have to admit, that the senators were nicer to each other for about an hour when the next session began.

Back to the point: If the Cardinals can do it, Congress can do it.

Sequestration now!

No relief until we have a balanced budget and a serious plan to attack the federal deficit!

Habemus Papam!

When O Lord will we cry for joy: Habemus Budgetam!

Look it up. There is no Latin word for budget, so I made it up.

Like what they do regularly in Congress.

Note: McGuigan is a devout Roman Catholic, and a fan of Argentine wine.

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Patrick B. McGuigan is bureau chief for the Oklahoma City Bureau of Watchdog.org, and works from the press room at the state Capitol. He is also the editor of CapitolBeatOK, and Associate Publisher of The City Sentinel newspaper. In 2013, The Washington Post blog “The Fix” designated Pat one of the best reporters in Oklahoma. In addition to the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists, where he serves as state secretary-treasurer, Pat is a member of the National Press Club and the Tulsa Press Club.