These are our core beliefs

What I know about the inner-work­ings of pol­i­tics I learned in The Pow­er Bro­ker, and there­fore I don't claim to know much oth­er than the sausage-mak­ing involved in build­ing the Tri­bor­ough Bridge. Still, I was struck by the fol­low­ing pas­sage from Ryan Lizza's New York­er pro­file of Peter Orszag, the Direc­tor of the Office of Man­age­ment and Budget.

The first bud­get, [Robert Nabors, an OMB vet­er­an] told me, "was being designed with an eye toward what do we need to do to put the econ­o­my back on a more sus­tain­able path? What do we need for eco­nom­ic growth? And what do we need to do in order to trans­form the coun­try? Those were our over­ar­ch­ing prin­ci­ples." The bud­geteers took a hyper-ratio­nal approach, attempt­ing to deter­mine pol­i­cy and leave the pol­i­tics and spin for lat­er. He went on, "One of the things that would prob­a­bly sur­prise peo­ple is that this wasn't an effort where any­body cre­at­ed a top-line bud­get num­ber and said, 'This is the num­ber that we have to hit, and that's just that, and we'll fit every­thing else in.' Or, 'We can't go high­er than x on rev­enue,' or, 'We can't go high­er than y on spend­ing.' It was more of a func­tion­al bud­get than any­thing else: 'This is what we need to do. These are our prin­ci­ples. These are our core beliefs. And as a result this is what our bud­get looks like.'"

This is prob­a­bly the kind of thing that gives night­mares to the teabag­gers, but I love the idea of goal-ori­ent­ed bud­get cre­ation. Why not try to keep your eyes on the prize of actu­al tan­gi­ble out­comes like sus­tain­ble eco­nom­ic growth when you're wran­gling the world's most com­pli­cat­ed spread­sheet into submission?