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Eighties era off the hook?

Regarding the Opinion page article "Getting It Right on the Deficit," July 2: The author states that the biggest jump in federal spending as a share of GDP was not during the Reagan administration. This may be true, but the statement is misleading.

During most of the Reagan years the economy was booming, so naturally federal spending would look minuscule as a percentage of GDP. Promising to balance the budget, President Reagan cut income taxes while spending billions on defense projects that generated unprecedented deficits.

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It was after the economy cooled off in the late 1980s that federal spending (which must always grow somewhat regardless of the state of the economy) as a percentage of GDP looked enormous. During the Reagan administration, the national debt increased from $907 billion to $2.6 trillion - this in a time of economic expansion.

Bending the facts will not help our financial predicament. Much of the prosperity of the 1980s was nurtured by massive deficit spending, and the bill has now come due. Richard D. Soule, Vista, Calif.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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