How a fiscal impasse, in 1990, was broken

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Back when leaders led, followers followed and the news media made less noise, the commanding figures of American government retreated to Andrews Air Force Base to forge a bipartisan budget compromise.

That 11-day summit meeting failed — despite the threat of deep automatic spending cuts, and despite the top Republican’s acknowledgment that taxes had to go up.

A smaller group of negotiators later struck a deal inside the Capitol. That failed, too — defeated on the House floor by a coalition of liberal and conservative rebels.

History now recalls those events in the fall of 1990, and the agreement Congress eventually enacted, as the opening chapter of Washington’s long, successful climb out of the deficit hole of the 1980s. And they offer a perspective on the current stalemate between a White House and a Congress struggling to repeat that achievement....

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