- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2003

Parting words

Here’s wishing a pleasant retirement to Carol Cox Wait, a frustrated departing president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

“After 22 years as president, I am leaving the committee … and ask your indulgence,” says Mrs. Wait, sharing some final thoughts on the federal budget.

She first observes that the committee opened its doors in 1981, for once a group outside of government that was committed to a sound budget process.

“Not to specific spending or tax initiatives or programs, but rational, transparent, disciplined budget decision-making rules,” she says. “Almost immediately, the committee was overwhelmed by the specter of historically large, seemingly endless, structural budget deficits.”

But the committee, under her leadership, buckled down. And 17 years later, on Feb. 2, 1998, President Clinton released a $1.7 trillion balanced budget that he said marked “the end of an era.”

Then, of course, came the national wake-up call on September 11. Homeland security issues could no longer be ignored and were beefed up, airlines had to be bailed out, U.S. troops went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and given the astronomical costs of these and other unanticipated bumps in the road, it was good timing for President Bush (if not Mrs. Wait) to expire budget enforcement rules.

“It is very unfortunate, to say the least, that the budget enforcement rules expired just as huge unanticipated surpluses emerged,” Mrs. Wait says. “Budget balance proved to be a fragile hothouse flower. Huge surpluses evaporated just as quickly as they emerged. Here we are, 22 years later, and it is deja vu all over again.”

Mrs. Wait hopes her successors urge political leaders to act sooner rather than later to address medium- to long-term challenges, and remind them what did and did not work the last time around.

“But as my children say, I have been there and done that, and it is time for me to go,” she says.

College inventions

Uncle Sam won’t be fooled much longer by “bogus college degrees” and other “resume padding” under strict new guidelines being implemented by Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Cole James.

OPM, we’ve learned, will sponsor two seminars next month for federal human resources and personnel security managers to establish the veracity of education achievements cited by prospective employees on their resumes.

Several years ago, OPM alerted federal agencies to the FBI’s investigation of “diploma mills” that sell bogus college degrees and other professional credentials.

“It is my goal to ensure that those hired to work for the federal government are of the highest integrity,” the director says. “As the federal personnel security community continues to strive to protect homeland security, it becomes increasingly important that serious suitability issues are dealt with promptly and effectively.”

Bionic man

Telephone operators on Capitol Hill will be busier than usual today as this country’s Muslim community orchestrates a national call-in day to urge senators Wednesday to reject the nomination of Daniel Pipes to head the federally funded U.S. Institute of Peace.

Behind the congressional phone-in is the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, which charges among other things that Mr. Pipes claims to have a special mental “filter” with which he can detect those who want to “create a Muslim state in America.”

Runs it off

It’s not often that President Bush shows visible signs of wear and stress. And his ability to jog an 8-minute mile with little effort or pain impresses runners years his junior.

How does he do it?

On his recent visit to Texas, Mr. Bush, a former owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, bumped into an old friend who operates a fitness facility.

“In the midst of some of those Ranger losing streaks I would get all anxious and I would go over and visit with my friend Ken Cooper,” Mr. Bush recalled.

Mr. Cooper’s advice?

“He’d just say, run until it doesn’t hurt any more.”

GOP conspiracy

“As the proud father of nearly 7-year-old Reagan Robb Dellinger I am enjoying the running commentary” on parents increasingly naming their children, especially girls, after the 40th president of the United States, writes Royal S. Dellinger.

“Although my mom was executive assistant to the boss [Ronald Reagan], and I was principal deputy executive director at PBGC [Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation] and deputy assistant secretary at the DOL [Labor Department], it was Reagan’s older sisters who picked her name after they met another Reagan at the beach. They liked the name but didn’t link it to the president.

“Needless to say, I was pleased. Of course, no one believes that I didn’t steer them to their suggestion, but some folks — mostly my Democrat friends — just won’t believe the truth about most anything.”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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