Essay: Welfare For Coupon Clippers

In a decade's worth of arguments about who has won and who has lost from changes in federal taxes and spending, one item has tended to get overlooked. It's one of the fastest-growing items on the federal books: interest on the national debt. It has more than tripled, from $52 billion in 1980 to $179 billion in 1990. It is closing in on Social Security ($222 billion) as the Government's largest transfer program.

Some people like to take comfort in the fact that the national debt, although swelling, is a smaller share of gross national product than it was during the...

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