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    This Is Your Federal Budget

    They ‘potatoed’ him
    into eternity. 

    Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the new deficit panel, speaking of press attacks on Dan Quayle.

    anthimeria (an thih MARE ee uh), the verbing figure.
    From the Greek, meaning “one part for another.”

    Figaro is definitely dating himself here. But, hey, we’re talking Alan Simpson, the 2,000-year-old former Wyoming senator and conservative funny man. The quote refers to George H.W. Bush’s hapless running mate in the 2000 election, who misspelled “potato” on a blackboard while talking up education to students.

    The figure Simpson uses takes one part of speech and turns it into another. As strip Calvin said in the comic strip, “Verbing weirds language.” Verbing can also humorize language, as Simpson proves here. (Hard-core Figarists are welcome to point out that Simpson’s “potatoed” is also a rather starchy metonymy.)

    We’re glad to see Simpson back in the political limelight. He’s the only hope for Obama’s toothless deficit panel. Simpson will not only give the panel some serious policy dentures; the straight-talking Republican is likely to shame the hacks in both parties and get the few remaining fair-minded Americans to understand the fix we’re in.

    The national debt will grow six-fold in the decades to come if current fiscal policies remain in place. Obama’s so-called freeze on domestic spending won’t help. If we eliminated all non-defense discretionary spending—wiping out all anti-terrorism activities, airport security, border security, education, law enforcement, environmental protection, transportation, and so on—we still wouldn’t close the budget gap. Defense is off the table. Congress won’t do anything about the soaring health costs that are behind most of the growth in debt. How about raising taxes to Reagan-era levels? Forget about it. Result: bankruptcy within 15 years.

    Simpson had better spell one heck of a potato.

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