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Amity Shlaes

To Cut Budget, Concentrate on Growth, History Shows: Echoes

Reform the process. That's the solution often put forward these days to control federal spending. Budgets? They require triggers, one of Washington's favorite new words, to automatically restrain deficits. The debt ceiling? That's all about fiddling with the rules, too.

But controlling the budget isn't merely about rules. It's also about the will of legislators and voters to change law and policy in all fields, from monetary to tax, as well as to change what might be called the spending culture.