COMMENTARY from The Economist of London:"The American...

Salmagundi

September 25, 1992

COMMENTARY from The Economist of London:

"The American presidential election is turning into a fairground contest of conjurers. Here stands George Bush with a tray of treats before him, tossing out $1 billion in wheat subsidies for the mid-west and $6 billion in aircraft contracts for Texas.

"There stands Bill Clinton, showing even with empty hands that he is eager to do the same. And meanwhile, in the neon-lit arcades of Congress, men who had promised to stop feeding dimes into the machines are tinkering them to life. The air is ripe with the smell of pork and hypocrisy. . .

"Voters may sigh. Yet congressmen carry on in this fashion, just as Mr. Bush does, for one reason only: because they believe this is what voters want. Newcomers in Congress look to their seniors, the committee barons such as Jamie Whitten of Mississippi and Robert Byrd of West Virginia, and see how cartloads of pork for the home district translate into a long and happy tenure. Voters may be upset by bounced checks and government 'waste,' but waste dumped on their doorsteps has a curious appeal. . .

"Voters have not forgotten their anti-congressional rage. But it is applied to a 'do-nothing' Congress, as if to do something -- something for them -- is virtuous. . .The candidates have noticed it. That is why talk of the deficit has faded, to be replaced by the patter of federal candy landing in laps."

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