Cabinet Secretaries Lunch

December 31, 2008

December 31, 2008

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Wal-Mart Stores, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today's commentary--

I have served as a host for the annual Cabinet Secretaries Holiday luncheon for more than 20 years. At this year's luncheon, we hosted 52 Cabinet members spanning the years from the Gerald Ford Cabinet to the George W. Bush Cabinet. The history of this prestigious event started with 6 of us from the Reagan Cabinet (including Vice President Bush) having lunch at the Madison Hotel in 1981. As time passed, we decided to invite all Cabinet members -- current and past. The non-partisan event has grown and in recent years we have held it at the historic Blair House. The Blair House, next to the White House, serves as the guest home for foreign dignitaries visiting the President.

Just for fun, the attendees are asked to make predictions -- some are serious and some not so serious. I reminded everyone of some of their predictions from the year before.

As an example, in 2007, Clayton Yeutter predicted that a Third Party Candidate would run in the Presidential election and win. No way! Obama is not a Third Party. I might add, no one predicted Obama to win. Sam Bodman predicted fuel costs would rise to $140 per barrel. He must have a very good crystal ball. If I had believed him then, I would have booked my fuel.

Next year, we'll be judging this year's predictions. Sec. Chertoff predicted the Dow to go to 10,000. Civilitti said it would go to 6,000. I hope Chertoff is right. Ag Secretary Johanns said in 2009 gasoline will be down to 1 dollar per gallon in some places. Seems to be headed in that direction. Secretary of Interior Gale Norton predicted that climate change will be a big topic of discussion but no legislation will pass. My prediction -I said the Obama Administration would normalize relations with Cuba. We should have done it years ago. Those are just some examples of the many.

We had 4 former Secertaries of Agriculture in attendance. Fifty-two Cabinet members in total made it a record turnout. Maybe that is because in these tough economic times, a free lunch draws a crowd.

In the next few weeks, I want to take a look back at 2008 and make some predictions myself about what lies ahead in 2009.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.