IN a democracy like the United States there is always a tension between the desirable and the attainable. The tug and pull between public and private interests must be compromised. The new two-year $76 billion deficit reduction agreement, for all its flaws, is a case in point. President Reagan engaged in hyperbole in arguing that the accord sends the ``right message at the right time.'' An accord several weeks back would have been better. Better even than that would have been more rational thinking when the massive defense spending increases and huge tax cuts were passed in the early 1980s. This defense-spending, tax-cut policy, without action on entitlements, more than anything led to the present deficit dilemma.
That said, the new $76 billion agreement is a reasonable compromise. Wall Street wasn't caught off guard by what the conferees did. Deficits, unfortunately, will still run about $150 billion annually. The deficit accord, however, is important symbolically. It represents the first genuine compromise between Congress and the White House on the deficit since former Senate majority leader Robert Dole sought to forge a major tax-and-spending agreement in 1985. For either Congress or the White House to scuttle the agreement now would put enormous pressure on financial markets.
Lawmakers must move quickly to pass the new agreement. Getting House approval will be hardest. Conservative, antitax Republicans are angry. Mr. Reagan must mobilize his troops and ensure that the measure clears Congress.
Beyond the deficit accord, the Western trading community should proceed with a meeting of international finance officials to work out a successor to the somewhat tarnished Louvre accord, which figured in the Oct. 19 stock market plunge. Some frank talk and joint action on the world economy is in order.