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The new economic profligacy

For decades America ran huge budget deficits, only balancing the books in the last two years of the most astonishing economic boom on record. Now the two presidential candidates are rubbing their hands at the prospect of spending huge projected surpluses. They should be planning to meet the country’s real long-term financial challenges, rather than frittering the bounty away in popular tax cuts and spending. The age of sound economic leadership in the US may be about to come to an end. Antony Currie reports


Judging by the direction of this year's US presidential election campaign, the name of James Carville is already little more than an historical footnote. Carville, for those whose memories need refreshing, was the campaign manager of Arkansas governor Bill Clinton's bid for the White House in 1992. He it was who thought up one of the most famous election slogans, just eight syllables long: "It's the economy, stupid." It was one of the three themes he deemed so crucial that he had them written up on a whiteboard and stuck on a pillar in the centre of the campaign headquarters for all to see. The other two, incidentally, were "Change vs more of the same," and "Don't forget healthcare".

No one will forget healthcare - it was an early, and damaging defeat for president Clinton, who certainly was a change from Bush and Reagan, although not always in the manner voters had hoped.

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