In the second week of February, we decided to kick the health-care can down the road and complete the rest of the economic plan. I had become deeply immersed in the details of budgeting, determined to understand the human impact of our decisions. Most of the team wanted to cut farm supports and other rural programs, which they thought were unjustifiable. Alice Rivlin pushed hard for the cuts, suggesting I could then say I had ended welfare for farmers as we know it. It was a takeoff on one of my best campaign lines, a pledge to end welfare as we know it. I reminded my mostly urban budgeteers that farmers were good people who had chosen hard work in an uncertain environment, and though we had to make some cuts in their programs, we dont have to enjoy it. Since we couldnt restructure the whole farm program, reduce the subsidies in other nations budgets, or eliminate all the foreign barriers to our food exports, we ended up reducing the existing farm benefits modestly. But I didnt enjoy it.
It was still quite dark outside. The rain was over, but drops were still falling from the trees. Near the watchman's hut the black shapes of the Cossacks' shanties and of horses tethered together could be seen. Behind the hut the dark shapes of the two wagons with their horses beside them were discernible, and in the hollow the dying campfire gleamed red. Not all the Cossacks and hussars were asleep; here and there, amid the sounds of falling drops and the munching of the horses near by, could be heard low voices which seemed to be whispering.
Immediately all the flowers in the flower-pots became large trees,
lad, and it seemed to him the finest thing in the world to carry a
heart, his daughter, or her child, that had, perhaps never seen the
smeared all over; the gold was stuck on to this, and the
Wormtail, who had been sputtering incoherently, fell silent at once. For a few seconds, Frank could hear nothing but the fire crackling. The second man spoke once more, in a whisper that was almost a hiss.
And without warning, Dumbledore swooped, plunging the tip of his wand into the seat of the overstuffed armchair, which yelled, “Ouch!”