TUESDAY: And Now the Good News ...

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WASHINGTON: Almost completely obscured by Monday's market dive was a bit of good economic news: The federal deficit has shrunk to $22.6 billion, the lowest since 1974. While Wall Street screamed, President Clinton was before a benign crowd at the Democratic Leadership Council, proudly bearing the news that uncomfortable first-term taxes and a chest-beating economy had driven the number down to a fraction of what even administration officials had predicted.

"The deficit-reduction plan of 1993 was supported only by Democrats, enacted in the face of the most withering partisan criticism and deep political risk that cost some members their positions in Congress," said Clinton, fighting a hoarse voice. "Well, it's time for the naysayers to admit they're wrong. It worked. And America is better for it."

The bad news: Recently enacted tax cuts are likely to reverse the shrinking process in coming years. But by then, it won't be Clinton's problem.