March 2005 (v7 i5)
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White House cuts complimentary pens
'A lot of things had to go,' explains Bush of new budget
by Kathryn Edwards, Associate Editor

"Be cool, my babies."
WASHINGTON, DC — The budget for the 2005 fiscal year proposed by President Bush outlines a $20 billion decrease in social programs, including money for education and health care and the complete elimination of complimentary White House pens, says Press Secretary Scott McLellan.

"This is a time when we have to be fiscally smart and financially sound," explained McLellan. "Unnecessary spending weakens our government. The president is not saying that there is anything wrong with these programs, especially the pens ? we all love them. I should know, I have five in my desk drawer right now. But this is a time to make sacrifices."

Democrats on the Hill, however, wasted no time in making their objections to the budget cuts known. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W. Va., the Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, promised to fight the elimination when the budget gets to committee.

"I thought this administration couldn't sink any lower," commented Byrd. "But once again I am surprised. Medicare, education, complimentary pens — these are things that affect everyday people. The fact that the president can be so dismissive about it shows how little he cares about the people's needs."

Nationwide, news of the budget cuts has elicited a variety of responses, from confused to upset. Taylor Wells, an Illinois web designer, was surprised to find the decrease in spending had become so extensive.

"Medicare and education cuts I understand, because it seems like those things only exist to have money cut from them. But pens? We can't afford pens?" asked Wells. "I swear someone told me we were the wealthiest nation in the world, in history even, but apparently we're so hard up we can't even afford things to write with."

Wells laughed to himself before continuing.

"That's probably because Bush is so stupid that he can't write. Do you hear how he talks and messes up? He's just this big dumb ball of dumb that's... dumb."

Mary Swearingen, a retired Georgian schoolteacher who visited the White House several years ago, recalled with fondness the pens she received.

"It's been hard around here," said Swearingen. "Ever since I've gotten less money from Medicare and Social Security, I've had to choose which medicine to take and move to a smaller apartment. But now these cuts have taken what little joy I had from life. Not that I have the money to go back to D.C., but now I know there's no point in even trying to go."

Swearingen sighed heavily before adding: "I guess the best way to explain my thoughts would be to say I always figured that I would die poor and alone. This is like knowing I'll be unhappy, too."

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration quickly announced that it has already begun construction on displays for an exhibition centered on the now-rare pens. The exhibit is scheduled to open in Summer of 2007.
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