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A trillion here, a trillion there . . .

In raising the national debt limit this week past the one-trillion-dollar mark, the Senate is only doing what it must do. For if the stern visage of Uncle Sam means anything it is that a nation no less than an individual must meet its obligations. But the figure boggles the mind. One trillion dollars! And, if one trillion dollars today, can a quadrillion dollars be far down the road? So asks Senator Proxmire, who waged his own (futile) miniprotest on the debt hike with a 16-hour Senate talkfest.

Yes, the debt is considerable. However, as a proportion of the US gross national product, it is actually shrinkingm -- now at about 35 percent of GNP, compared to 130 percent at the end of World War 11.

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Still, as PResident Reagan reminds his fellow Americans, there is the stark symbolism of all that indebtedness -- a constant and uncomfortable reminder that the government is shelling out more than it is taking in. The urgent task is to reverse that pattern.