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Pinching Pennies, the Lincoln Way

We’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that most lawmakers remain blissfully ignorant of the nightmarish haggling that goes into composing a nonbinding congressional budget blueprint.

Here’s hoping local schoolchildren can stomach the same with a little help from a guy in a stovepipe hat and a pocketful of shiny copper pieces.

Michael Shank, a one-time aide to Rep. Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., who has since moved on to serve as director of foreign policy at Friends Committee on National Legislation, will be returning to the Hill on Tuesday for an encore performance of his 2010 portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln.

He’ll again don Honest Abe’s kit, fake beard and everything, to help more than 40 third-graders from Oyster-Adams Bilingual School wrap their heads around how Congress hashes out federal spending. The academic exercise is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. in Room 210 of the Cannon House Office Building.

Shank intends to use a powerful pronouncement (“with malice toward none, with charity for all”) from Lincoln’s second inaugural address as the starting point for the adventure in appropriating. He plans to provide the kids with pennies they can then divide among the programs that are most important to them.

“I’m not going to prescribe categories,” he told HOH of his desire to, hopefully, have the kids go all Socratic and divine the best possible uses of public funds — though Shank did mention education, health care and the environment as topics he’d like to address.