President Obama strode to the lectern and acknowledged several journalists from the major media as they seated themselves, then launched immediately into the subject at hand: the budget deadline.
"As of midnight tonight, in exactly two hours, the United States Government will be forced to suspend all but vital military and emergency aid services to the American people. Social Security employees will not be on the job; federal funding for colleges and universities will not be forthcoming, and government-subsidized transportation and communications facilities and so on will not be operational. All national parks and recreation areas will be closed. We have prepared a list of which employees in every department are to be laid off, and it is going out as I speak. I order all non-essential federal employees to go home at midnight and to not report until further notice.
"Additionally, because military expenditures and legal contracts cannot be paid on time without a working government, I am ordering all of our military units in every part of the world to suspend operations where safety allows it, since none of this either can be done without funds. We are temporarily closing most of our embassies, including those in Europe, the Far East, and Africa. State and other federal departments will run with a skeleton staff of only the top management officials, without secretarial or other help.
"In other words," the President continued, "I am ordering all federal employees other than those previously indicated to stay home tomorrow. Do not come to work, and do not work from your homes. We cannot pay you. I am cutting my own staff by approximately 50 percent."
"Constitutionally, I have no choice in the matter. Congress alone holds the strings to the purse, or in this case the keys to the Treasury. Our Founders wisely decided on this method, with the representatives of the people deciding how taxes will be spent, instead of a lone executive who might become a dictator if he had such power.
"There are emergency funds available to me as the Executive, and I will dispense them as fairly as I can. It is constitutionally up to Congress to find concord on how taxes will be spent. It is my job and constitutional duty to sign or not sign that legislation. In this case, there is no legislation for me to accept or veto. I reiterate that I will veto exactly what too many in Congress are now proposing, and that is why they have not decided whether to pass the bill in dispute. At midnight, by law, or rather for the lack of a law authorizing expenditures, it will be illegal and unconstitutional for the federal government to operate without a budget.
"I bow to the will of the Congress and presumably to the will of the American people, since they elected the members who did not come forth with a budget, and am shutting down the federal government. My hands are tied. It is up to the Congress and the Congress alone to resolve this delimma, and up to the American people as well, to let their will be known, and to make their will be done. That is how it is supposed to work in America. Thank you. Don't worry. God bless the United States of America."
"Mr. President!" shouted the 30 journalists.
"I'm sorry. No time for questions. Well, just one." He chose the guy from the New York Times.
"Mr. President, is there anything you would like to say to the Republicans and some Democrats in Congress whose refusal to pass a budget brought this on?"
Obama considered the question for about 10 seconds.
"It's your play."
And he walked away from a chorus of shouts.
Michele was waiting with a big smile when he returned to the private residence.