THE DEFICIT HASN'T VANISHED, BUT IT SURE HAS LOST WEIGHT
The federal budget deficit is coming down even faster than previously predicted, according to the Office of Management & Budget. The deficit for the current fiscal year will be $220 billion, $15 billion below what was projected last February and $85 billion below the estimate made before passage of President Clinton's five-year budget plan last fall. Thanks to an expanding economy, the trend is expected to continue, pushing the deficit down to $167 billion in fiscal 1995.
Indeed, on top of the nearly $500 billion the White House budget will already have trimmed from the deficit by 1998, higher revenues from the economic expansion and lower spending on entitlements such as unemployment compensation could pare some $200 billion. And federal employment will have been reduced by at least 272,000, to about 1.9 million by 1999--the lowest level since the Kennedy Administration.PAUL MAGNUSSON