Exercises in Make-Believe

Congress insists on setting spending goals, however fanciful

The way to reconcile the irreconcilable is to choose the flat-out impossible. Or so, apparently, think the leaders of a conference committee that is trying to close the enormous gaps between fiscal 1984 budget resolutions passed by the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-ruled Senate. Though the conference had been expected to be long and prickly, the committee last week reached a tentative agreement, but only by adopting a set of revenue and spending targets that are an exercise in make-believe.

Military spending posed no real problem. The conferees agreed on an increase of 5% after...

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