West Wing
Third-Day Story

Episode Report Card
LTG: B- | 2 USERS: C
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Three Dog Night

Jed must have made it back for the signing of the peace accord, because he and Abbey are watching footage of the signing on a television in the hospital waiting room. Lest you picture Jed waiting in an uncomfortable chair surrounded by sick and crazy people, let me point out that this seems to be a special presidential waiting room. Right now it just contains Jed, Abbey, Charlie, and at least one Secret Service agent. Abbey is telling Jed that stress causes a physical reaction that contributes to the likelihood of a heart attack. (Something like the effect caused by watching this show.) She tells him that unless he "wanted [Leo] meditating his way through intelligence briefings and sleeping in a flotation tank, there's nothing you did..." Jed: "I fired him." Abbey: "What?" Jed: "Last night, at Camp David, I fired him. What does that do to the flow of blood?"

Cut to an unnecessarily gruesome shot of Leo's surgery. I refuse to recap this, on the grounds that this is not ER. Commercials.

Toby's office, where he is meeting with a member of Congress. The Congressman (for man it is) tells Toby that the President did a great thing at Camp David, and asks about Leo's health. Toby: "They're trying to stabilize his pressure." Congressman: "What does that mean, exactly?" Toby: "No idea, but I wish they'd do it to me." Toby asks for Congressman's support for the tax cut. It turns out that Congressman is all for the idea, and is willing to deliver as many votes as he can. But he wants Toby to promise that the President won't support a cap on the number of children eligible for the tax credit. Apparently, there are deficit hawks who have floated this exact idea.

And Josh is meeting with two of those deficit hawks. There is a huge plate of brownies sitting in front of Josh. Josh tells them (the deficit hawks, not the brownies) that he understands their concern about the deficit, but that the leadership won't authorize a vote on peacekeeping without something to grease the skids. Deficit Hawk #1: "Fine. Just go easy on the grease." Deficit Hawk #2: "Not too much grease." Heh. Josh points out that there is already an income cap on the child tax credit, and asks them what else they want. Can you guess what they suggest? Yes, they propose limiting the number of children eligible for the credit to three or four per family. Josh points out that only a tiny percentage of families have more than four children, but Deficit Hawk #1 wants to send a message "about social responsibility as well as fiscal." Deficit Hawk #2: "Social and fiscal." Deficit Hawk #1: "Peacekeeping is about to explode the deficit. We should subsidize every Rube Goldberg's reproductive glands?" What the...? I mean, what? Did Will start righting speeches for Deficit Hawk #1? What the fuck does that mean? Oh, and once again, I have to call (sing it with me) "bullshit" on this storyline. Leaving aside the partisan complaint that it's Democrats who normally support middle-class tax relief like expanding the child tax credit (whereas Republicans are more likely to support child poisoning tax credits), there is simply not a single elected official in the U.S. government who would seriously propose placing a cap on the number of children covered by such a credit. It's as likely as someone proposing mandatory euthanasia for all people over age ninety as a way to preserve Medicare. It's just beyond the realm of acceptable political discourse in the U.S.

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West Wing

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