Look, Ma! No Hands!

Congress embraces a draconian cure for the deficit and dithers on taxes

Most landmark laws are signed in the Oval Office amid great hoopla, by a beaming President surrounded by self-promoting politicians grinning in the glare of television lights. But when Ronald Reagan penned his name on the Gramm-Rudman Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Reduction Control Act of 1985 last week, he did so without ceremony or cameras.

The official silence was, in a way, understandable. Few bills that cross a President's desk have the potential to reorder the national agenda or change the way Government does business. Gramm-Rudman has precisely such potential, but the force that drove it through Congress was an...

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