Phantom Surplus

For all the screaming about spending and tax cuts, the truth is, the money's already gone

The Great American Budget Battle, Washington's answer to professional wrestling, has officially begun, all roars and growls and theatrical blows to the head. This week Congress will send the President a $792 billion tax-cut bill; he has promised to stomp on it. Clinton has pushed a $300 billion spending program, including a new prescription-drug program for Medicare; congressional fists are already clenched. There is talk of grand ideological warfare, of reckless spendthrift Democrats and reckless plutocrat-loving Republicans fighting over how to divvy up the glorious $3 trillion surplus. In this season's budget politics, much of the fight is phony. But that...

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