Over the past 10 years, the US inflation rate has dipped and soared like a roller coaster. Over the same period, however, the rate of increase in federal spending has generally outstripped inflation. This was often the result of deliberate government action to boost a sagging economy or of rising payments for unemployment benefits during a recession. Fedearal spending also climbed because many government payments, such as sonial security, are indexed to the inflation rate. President Reagen's spending "freeze" would seek to match the rate of growth in federal spending with the inflation rate -- in effect providing no growth in spending after adjustment for inflation.