Today's Papers

The Line King

The president’s intent to use the line-item veto today for the first time ever leads the Washington Post and gets front-page play at the other majors. The Los Angeles Times leads with the standstill in the UPS/Teamster talks and the Secretary of Labor’s increasing involvement in them. The New York Times leads with the renewed shuttle diplomacy of the U.S. special envoy in the Middle East, and USA Today goes with Greg Maddux’s new $57.5 million contract.

Last week President Clinton announced his intent to use the line-item veto on some provisions of the budget and tax legislation just enacted, but by today’s accounts, several days of scrutiny revealed that this was easier said than done–the WP reports, for instance, that a tax break concerning employee stock ownership plans and another concerning Amtrak were dropped because they had been agreed to during the budget negotiations with Congress. Except for the Post, the papers come up with various predictions about which provisions will get the knife, but they agree that the choices will be one or two of the bill’s tax breaks benefiting 100 or fewer taxpayers.

Perhaps the most worrying detail of the attempt to get negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority jump-started is this remark of Israeli President Ezer Weizman’s reported in the Times: “We will do everything to avoid going into a hot conflict, and right now I fear it’s headed in that direction.”

A Wall Street Journal piece uses last week’s Korea Air crash in Guam as the point of departure for a general discussion of airline safety. The story notes that some types of accidents that used to plague airlines just ten years ago, such as wind shear and midair collisions, have become much less common, but accident rates for approach and landing remain high.

USAT’s cover story is a fairly optimistic look at welfare reform one year later, which notes that more than 1.2 million people got off the rolls within the reform’s first eight months. That’s a rate of 5,000 people a day, twice the previous year’s pace. “The most noteworthy aspect of welfare reform so far is,” the piece explains, “what hasn’t happened. Poor people threatened by the new law, the most sweeping changes since federal welfare was created in 1935, have not flooded child welfare rolls, homeless shelters, food pantries or soup kitchens.” But at this point, says USAT, this is all attibutable to the soaring economy and no one knows what will happen when it falters.

A piece inside the WP points out that the current spate of political fundraising scandals has been a boon to lawyers. (The only lawyers who haven’t profited during the late unpleasantness are those who left deep-pile firms to work on the Senate or White House staffs. They’ve taken pay cuts.) For instance, the bills from the Democratic National Committee’s outside law firm “are already $8.5 million–nearly triple the amount of questionable contributions the party has returned to donors.” The Democrats’ legal costs have included more than $800,000 for copying and $2 million in document retrieval and scanning. And, notes the Post, this is a bipartisan development. When Haley Barbour testified last month before the Senate investigating committee, he was accompanied by seven attorneys billing at an aggregate rate of $1,000 an hour.