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Gramm-Rudman Budget Measure

January 13, 1986

Ben Wattenberg's argument (Editorial Pages, Dec. 23) that the Gramm-Rudman Act "gives the game to Gorbachev" misses the whole point.

The "game" has, in fact, been created by Ronald Reagan's voodoo economics: a massive budget deficit created by huge tax cuts and large increases in defense spending.

The current economic "good times" for which the voters apparently gave Reagan credit reminds me of the family that buys everything on credit and lives it up while waiting for the finance company to repossess their house, furniture and car.

Staunchly supported by the likes of Wattenberg and the American Enterprise Institute and similar conservative "think" tanks, Reagan has until now had his way on almost every economic issue. Gramm-Rudman, as bad as it is, at least recognizes that something has to be done about the deficit before the country slides into economic chaos.

The bitter pill that Reagan and his think-tank supporters have until now refused to swallow is that there is simply no way to enjoy lavish defense spending and to reduce the deficit without a tax increase. By facing up to this fundamental reality, Reagan can have all the defense spending he wants, in which case there would no longer be any "game" for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "win."

ALEXANDER W. ASTIN

Los Angeles

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