Today's Papers

DOE in the Headlights

The Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times all lead with President Clinton’s decision yesterday to support the IRS reform bill bound for easy House passage. The story also tops the Wall Street Journal’s world-wide news box. USA Today goes with government investigators saying that the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons has become increasingly vulnerable to theft and sabotage.

The USAT lead quotes a Pentagon report raising “serious concerns” over the physical security at Department of Energy nuke storage facilities and a DOE report that talks of a “developing crisis.”

House Republicans turned the groundswell of emotion loosed by abused taxpayers at hearings last month into votes for such ideas as putting the burden of proof on the agency in tax disputes and establishing an independent, largely civilian, control and review board. And ever since, report the papers, the White House has been looking for a face-saving way to sign on. According to the NYT and LAT, the key legislative adjustment was allowing the president to retain the power to appoint the IRS commissioner.

The USAT front-page IRS piece quotes an Internal Revenue official saying that the reform bill is “going to be the taxpayer’s worst nightmare” because “shifting the burden will mean more IRS intrusion into taxpayer finances.”

The WSJ “Tax Report” brings word that because of the recent changes in the capital gains tax rate, the Schedule D form for next year’s returns will no longer have 19 lines–it will have 54.

The LAT says the global warming plan to be announced today by the Clinton administration “falls short” of more stringent European proposals, and USAT says it calls for only “relatively small reductions” in greenhouse gasses. By contrast, the NYT emphasizes the plan’s system of rewards (in the form of pollution credits, tax breaks, and subsidies) for companies that achieve greater emission cuts than its standards require.

A WP front-page piece reports that a rigorous test of science knowledge, given to 130,000 students nationwide, shows that upwards of 40 percent of high-school seniors, and more than one-third of fourth- and eighth-graders, couldn’t meet minimum academic expectations. Want to guess the total number of eighth-graders in Washington, D.C. achieving a score of “advanced” on the test? Zero.

The NYT runs a piece inside on the trouble the Air Force is having retaining pilots. In 1994, says the Times, the retention rate was 81 percent. Now it’s less than 30 percent. The main reasons: family separation and the airlines are hiring.

With campaign reform dead for another year, the WP reports that the Democrats have invited donors to plunk down $50,000 each for a Florida weekend retreat at the end of October featuring Bill Clinton and Al Gore, a first for a sitting president and VP. In response to criticism of the event, DNC national chairman Steven Grossman tells the Post, “I don’t think it’s unseemly. It’s open, it’s transparent….” Definitely transparent.