ADDRESSING BUDGET PROBLEMS WITH the “Washington Monument” strategy.

President Obama’s recent plea for another $50 billion (here is the letter to congressional leaders) to save the jobs of teachers and firefighters in the states is a great example of the “Washington Monument Syndrome.” This refers to the bureaucratic practice of threatening to close down the most popular and vital programs in response to prospective budget cuts; it gets its name from the U.S. Department of the Interior, which always threatens it will have to close the Washington Monument if its budget is cut.

The message, in this case, is that if taxpayers — who are already poorer than they used to be — don’t give the states billions of dollars on top of the billions already received through the stimulus, our favorite state employees will end up in the streets without jobs.

As my father-in-law said, when they want to raise taxes, it’s always for teachers and firemen — but when they actually get the money, it goes to buy leather chairs for guys you’ve never heard of who work downtown.