Untamed Monster

Washington shrinks from dealing with the deficit

When the first signs of recovery began to break through the deep recession last winter, economists and politicians alike added apocalyptic warnings to their expressions of cautious optimism. Uncontrolled federal deficits, they declared, could drown the economy in red ink. Yet when Ronald Reagan, formerly the ardent apostle of balanced budgets, submitted a plan for fiscal 1984 with a shortfall that approached $200 billion, political paralysis seemed to set in. The enormity of the deficit monster eventually led to a feeling of futility. In addition, encouraging economic signs, such as a record bull run on...

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