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Out of the Washington babble came so many qualifications and interpretations that it was hard to say the Reagan economists had actually gone as soft on unbalanced budgets as it appeared. They did stun friend and foe alike as they greeted the prospect of whopping deficits by minimizing the effects so often lamented by their leader. Supply-sider Arthur Laffer went so far as to say the task was not to balance the budget but create jobs: social programs should be cut after an improved economy reduced people's needs for them.

Then emerged the modifications. The effects of deficits depended on their financing--by "printing money," borrowing in the marketplace, or bringing in more revenue through economic growth. The goal was still a balanced budget, through postponed by circumstances. And so it should be, with due regard for national needs--and without regard to the babble.

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