"Mr. President, on behalf of the House Republican leadership, welcome back to the Hill -- we're glad you decided to pay us this visit."
"Happy to do it, John. Nice to be back."
"Even if you're meeting with us after you sat down with al-Arabiya."
"Hey, I figured that was good prep for meeting with you guys! Seriously, though, I think we all know what an extraordinary situation we're in with the economy, and how important it is that we step up and make some tough decisions to start turning things around again."
"We couldn't agree more, Mr. President."
"And it won't hurt to show the American people that we really are capable of working together."
"No question about it."
"My economic team has already been consulting with many of you, as you know, about the stimulus package, and we've already made a bunch of changes based on your ideas. So what I mostly want to do today is listen. Find out what you -- "
"Well, I -- "
"I think what he means, Mr. President, is that the stimulus package still needs to have a better balance to it. Less on the slow-moving government-spending side, and more on the fast-acting tax-relief side."
"'Fast-acting tax relief' -- John, you sure you're not pitching Alka-Seltzer?"
"Not at all, Mr. President. What we're pitching is -- "
"That was a joke, John. You folks haven't gone and lost your sense of humor, have you?"
"Certainly not, Mr. President. But I warned the caucus that you'd try to turn on the charm, and that we shouldn't let you distract us with jokes and things."
"Fair enough. Serious talk for serious times -- I get it. Now, if we -- "
"Well, as you know, congressman, about a third of what's already in the package is tax cuts. Tax cuts for working families, for middle-class folks who'll actually go out and spend it and get the -- "
"I heard you. Look, maybe we can still tweak things a little bit -- I'll be happy to see your proposals. But they'll need to fit in with the overall approach we're -- "
"Right. Anybody else have any suggestions?"
"Right. Any other suggestions?"
"More tax cuts!"
"Bigger tax cuts!"
"When the economy's bad, you need tax cuts!"
"Hang on a minute, guys -- 'When the economy's bad, you need tax cuts.' Aren't you the same folks who used to say 'When the economy's good, you need tax cuts'?"
"That was different."
"I see. Tax cuts are only smart on days that have a 'd' in them? Tuesdays? Fridays?"
"That's not what we -- "
"And -- oh, how about Wednesdays? There are two 'd's in Wednesdays, aren't there? Maybe we should double the tax cuts!"
"Now, Mr. President, that's not fair!"
"I'm just trying to understand your position, guys. I want to work with you -- that's why I'm here. And I'd like this to be bipartisan."
"Exactly! And the only way to get our support is -- "
"Yeah, I heard."
"Well, those are just the facts."
"Got it. Let me toss out one other fact, OK?"
"What about it?"
"There was an election. Your side lost. Big."
"What's your point?"
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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at email@example.com.