Missing the deficit already

July 14, 1999|By Arnold Rosenfeld

RONALD Reagan and his fellow Republicans crabbed for decades about the federal deficit. Nothing, not even motherhood, came close to zapping waste, fraud and abuse.

Then Mr. Reagan was elected president. He slashed taxes, built up the military and ran up the biggest deficit in the history of the universe. Deficits, Republicans explained, were only bad if you looked at them in some dumb, outmoded way.

George Bush, who promised not to raise taxes, did so anyway when he became president, complaining that the tax-and-spend Democrats made him do it.

President Clinton raised taxes, too, and now, riding an economic boom, he says we're drowning in cash. There's enough dough available to patch up Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget, he says.

Along about 2015, he says we'll wipe out the national debt, a nifty 3,000 kazillion dollars.

Republicans say OK, we can do some good stuff for the old folks, but we really need to cut taxes. Besides, Mr. Clinton is stealing our best ideas, which, by the way, we now oppose.

I'll miss the national debt. It was something you could count on.

Arnold Rosenfeld is editor-in-chief of Cox Newspapers. His e-mail address: arnold.rosenfeld@cox.com.

Pub Date: 7/14/99

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