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Washington -- back to work

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AMERICANS may well welcome President Reagan's enthusiasm to be back on the job and ``rarin' to go,'' as he puts it, after a three-week vacation out in California. Mr. Reagan is certainly not alone in finding himself back on the job. Millions of Americans are returning from their summer hiatuses -- many of them also eager to make a meaningful contribution to their businesses and occupations.

The giant American economy, it is increasingly clear, could use a good measure of back-to-work zeal at this juncture. The recovery continues, long after the difficult 1981-82 downturn. At the same time, the sluggish pace of this recovery warrants careful attention -- as well as some tough decisions in Washington.

In that regard, the overriding priority remains essentially what it has been all this year; namely, getting meaningful control of the federal budget process -- to reduce deficits and bring down interest rates. The still relatively high US interest rates, as measured in world economic terms, in large part explain the reason for the high value of the dollar of the past year; the strong dollar has worked against US exports abroad and contributed to a decline in the US manufacturing base, as well as a conti nuing erosion of factory jobs.

Getting better control of the linkage between the budget, the deficit, interest rates, and jobs remains the central economic agenda in Washington. Thus, it was somewhat disappointing that President Reagan chose to concentrate on tax reform, as he did in his Independence, Mo., speech over the weekend. That is not to deny a need to simplify the tax code. But making tax reform the priority economic agenda for the final months of 1985 -- as Mr. Reagan seems to be doing -- appears unwise given the larger ec onomic considerations now facing the United States.


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