Playing Both Santa and Scrooge

Congress wraps up one budget as the President shapes another

The options are presented starkly. One sentence sets forth the department's request; another contains the recommendation from the Office of Management and Budget. After hearing the arguments, the man who sits where the buck stops jots his "RR" in a small box next to one of the alternatives, or scribbles in a compromise. The disputes between Cabinet agencies and David Stockman's OMB have reached the Oval Office, where Ronald Reagan must play either Santa or Scrooge. Even as the final legislation implementing his 1982 budget was being rushed through an adjournment-happy Congress...

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