Retreating on Defense

In a cliff-hanger, the President gets a budget with no military growth

In January, Ronald Reagan called the idea "very risky." Three weeks ago, in a TV speech to the nation, he said it "would jeopardize our security." Early this month, he added the adjective "irresponsible." Even last week, when allies in Washington phoned White House aides in Lisbon, the last stop on Reagan's European tour, the President, in the doubtlessly understated words of one adviser, "wasn't thrilled about it."

But by then Reagan had no choice. If he still wanted sweeping cuts in civilian spending, he would have to swallow a budget resolution that included a provision for what he called "zero...

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