A Deficit of Guts

Washington's fear of making tough choices wrecks the budget summit

Three months after Democratic and Republican congressional leaders sat down with George Bush to craft a plan for reducing the federal deficit, the budget talks collapsed last week under a combination of evasion, finger pointing and partisan bickering.

The President declared himself "frustrated" by the lack of progress but stopped short of holding the summiteers in Washington during the August recess to complete the job. Now, with the threat of a recession heightened by a leap in oil prices triggered by the Persian Gulf crisis, Bush and Congress have only 20 legislative days left before the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deadline falls. If no...