Executive View: Her Hand Is on the Future

It would not be a stretch to call her Alice in Wonderland. In the behind-the-mirror world of Washington, where many things are curiouser and curiouser, and even the knaves have to run faster to keep up, Alice Rivlin is the self-professed "official purveyor of bad news to the Congress." As head of the Congressional Budget Office, she and her 200-person staff figure out what proposed programs will really cost, and her cool counsel has stopped many of them in the gleam-in-the-eye stage.

When she got the job in 1975, Economist Rivlin, 48, an...

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