Another addition to my set of little frameworks for explaining things. I’ve lost the back pointer to where I learned this.
This is tool for thinking about budget items when the budgeting is embedded in a political context. And when isn’t it? The budget items can each be scored by two measures. First, how strong the claim of that item is; i.e. how pure, noble, and necessary it is. For example the maintenance of the public health system that inspects the food supply has a strong claim to funding. Second, how politically strong the parties who will advocate for a given item are. For example it’s rare that the executive suite’s benefit package goes unfunded.
Presumably an ethical practitioner of the political craft strives to draw a line thru his budgets that is more horizontal wile a practitioner who believes in giving power it’s due strives toward a vertical line. Of course reasonable people can dispute the how to score the claims – such dispute are, of course, why you need politics.
Example: Say your required to propose a budget within some cap; but you want to do more. What to do? Leave strong/strong items out of the budget. For example: funding the war in Iraq is strong/strong. It will get funded. That’s why the war’s been funded almost entirely with supplemental funding bills. These tricks make it subtle to read budget projections.
Update:The annual release of the president’s budget triggers … a more original source for this model. David Stockman, who knew? Homework; draw three curves in the space shown: a) a imaginary existing budget, b) a goal budget and c) best budget to propose to shift toward your goal budget. Extra credit pretend your really evil.