Nation: Balancing Act

A "make believe" budget

When debate opened three weeks ago on federal spending in 1981, House Budget Committee Chairman Robert Giaimo of Connecticut predicted that Congress was about to achieve a "historic breakthrough"—the first balanced budget in twelve years. Last week the House did just that, voting by 225 to 193 to spend $611.8 billion in the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. The budget projects a $2 billion surplus, in contrast to the $42.8 billion deficit on 1980 spending of $571.6 billion.

Unfortunately, the budget balancing act was accomplished only through two highly questionable maneuvers. First, to hold down spending,...

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