The news that next year's federal budget deficit is slated to reach $521 billionmore than half a trillion dollars, that ismight be expected to have a sobering effect in Washington, and there are some signs it has.
The Bush administration, whose budget for 2005 projects that shortfall, has been stressing its determination to hold spending in check. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress (recently) that new expenditure controls are ''an essential element in restoring fiscal sanity.'' Some prominent Republicans in Congress have begun demanding budget austerity, with House GOP whip Roy Blunt of Missouri vowing that ''everything is on the table'' for possible cuts.
But so far, there is a lot more talk than action. Congress still treats self-restraint as a good thing for someone else to practice. ...
The administration deserves some of the blame, too. In a $2.4 trillion budget, it proposed a grand total of $12.8 billion in spending cutsand their enactment is far from certain. President Bush has yet to risk some of his political capital by vetoing a spending bill.
... The president has begun to get serious about bringing spending under control, and Congress needs to follow suit.
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