West Wing
Red Haven's On Fire

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It's "Sunday Morning," and it's time to party, budget-style! Josh is in a budget meeting talking numbers, and as they're wrapping up, some guy named "Max" I'm not sure I'm supposed to know ["I believe his last name is 'Contrivance,' so you're good" -- Wing Chun] asks Josh, "Mrs. Bartlet was promised $12 million for immunization education funds at CDC. You've got the full $139 million for vaccines in here. Shouldn't they be earmarked separately?" Josh informs Max that there is "no more $12 million," which This Max Character can't believe. Max argues that he should have been told about this, and Josh tells him, "You get a daily memo on Hill consultations." Max responds, "I get thirty-five of them and you know it." Josh agrees that he did know that, and dismisses the meeting with a terse "Thank you." The rest of the suited strangers leave, and This Max Character walks up to Josh and asks, "I have to go tell this to the First Lady now?" Josh is continuously uninterested in this line of conversation, telling him, "Well, I'd have someone else do it, but it's up to you." So snerk on you, Max.

Someone who might be named Lauren enters the room she and the other interns left minutes earlier. Will is already there writing in marker on a dry-erase board, and he wastes no time before telling this Lauren, "You guys have got to hunker down." She promises him that they're doing their best, and Will argues, "I don't think you are." Lauren smiles, "Man, your sister was right." Will wants to know what she was "right" about, exactly, but Winnie walks in at just that moment and the conversation turns to matters slightly less gossipy in nature. Gack. So many numbers to recap. "Minimum wage," Will's lesson of the day starts. On the dry-erase is a wage/employment comparison among a guy who unloads boxes who makes minimum wage; a public school teacher who makes upwards of $41K; and a doctor making $150,000. The column below the salary lists the percentage of that salary that gets taxed, and Will explains the "Progressive Tax," which means that the higher salary gets taxed more. Check. The only reason I'm bored is because I already learned all this on The Bachelorette when Trista and Jamie took a CPA course right after they got hot oil massages and took a shower together. Will adds that the Republican tax plan announced last Friday has the minimum-wage worker and the schoolteacher paying the same taxes as before, but now "the doctor gets $4,500 back." Under the Democratic plan, however, only the doctor stays the same, whereas the cheaper labor gets a refund on their taxes. But how then, you may be asking, do we "finance the tax deductibility of college tuition for the box unloader and the schoolteacher?" I'm so glad you asked, because I had been wandering the streets of New York City until Wednesday night wondering exactly the same thing. The answer: "The über-wealthy." Is that a German superhero of some kind? "Ask a CEO making $16,400,000 a year to give us another 1%." He tells them to work on it for an hour and then he'll be back. But on his way out, one of the Laurens (I'm sorry, am I the only one who needs those jerseys back on, or what?) mutters, "The doctor got into medical school." What's that, you say? She repeats, and elaborates as well: "The doctor got into medical school. He had to work hard to do that, and presumably the CEO has some skills, the value of which the market has placed at $16,400,000." Will shoots back a line I just can't hear enough times: "Was there a spread on this in Republican Vogue?" He leaves. Ouch.

Josh hunts and pecks at his computer keyboard, turning around in his chair to find FLOTUS standing at his doorway, staring at him. "You're very stealthy, ma'am," Josh muses. "I've always liked that about you." FLOTUS is not impressed with this buttering up, and she strides into the office with the comment "You outsmarted my chancellor. You bested my swordsman." And while all this maybe true, I wouldn't expect FLOTUS to couch these plot developments in quite such a Magic, the Gathering kind of way. FLOTUS asks point-blank why her agenda doesn't get anywhere, accusing Josh of being "a political snob" who "doesn't think the First Lady belongs on the starboard side of the building." Josh answers: "Wrong." FLOTUS: "'Wrong' what?" Josh: "Wrong, ma'am." FLOTUS: "Damn right." Josh gets back to the exposition at hand, explaining that POTUS and Leo "listen to and participate in vigorous debate. This isn't school." FLOTUS asks why Josh thinks he can be so condescending with her, and he explains, "I won. I always do. And you came here for my advice." Max is her nephew. Oh. Josh thinks that this Max "doesn't understand the budget process, he doesn't understand committee structure." Josh tells her that her agenda is a serious one and that it needs serious attention with "a professional face on it." He insists that she hire a Chief of Staff worthy of her agenda. She thanks him and leaves because the swelling music tells her that Josh has said something inspiring and right.

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West Wing

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