Looking Back on a Budget Coup

Reagan seized the power of the purse—but can he hold it?

Battles of the budget, which once were seasonal struggles, have turned into a form of unending siege warfare in which rounds are fired almost every day. Congressional recesses and even presidential holidays are no longer exempted, as Ronald Reagan demonstrated last week.

"I'm kind of enthused," said the vacationing President, while signing 35 bills at the Century Plaza Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Among them were two that formalized notable White House victories over Congress: a $200 billion defense spending bill and an $11.6 billion foreign aid appropriation, which will give the...

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