Today's Papers

Dowd and Out at the New York Times

USA Today

leads with the Japanese tax cut. The Washington Post leads with the U.S.’s approval of South Korea’s reforms. The Los Angeles Times goes with the adverse affect the Asian downturn is expected to have on the California economy. The New York Times hears a different drummer and leads with President Clinton’s warning to Saddam Hussein that no option for dealing with him is off the table.

The main news of the USAT lead is that the Japanese government has announced a surprise tax cut as part of its self-bailout package. The temporary tax cut, USAT explains, is an about-face for Prime Minister Hashimoto, who had recently staked his political reputation on reducing his country’s budget deficit. The initial reaction was favorable, says the paper: Tokyo stock prices went up, as did the yen against the dollar.

The NYT front page also covers this development, in a piece that points out that many economists think the Japanese government has prolonged the Japanese downturn and that of the region by dithering. The Times also notes that the Japanese situation is braking growth well beyond Asia: as the largest creditor nation, for instance, it is expected to be able to provide, for example, the lion’s share of the billion dollars a day that is borrowed in U.S. markets.

The WP lead reports that President Clinton and Treasury Secretary Rubin hailed South Korea’s decision to allow the won to trade freely against the dollar, a move that has, the paper reports, resulted in a marked bounce-back in the currency in recent days. On the other hand, says the Post, Rubin expressed disappointment that the Japanese bailout wasn’t bigger, “more stimulative.”

The LAT says that experts think the Asian crisis will cost California up to 65,000 new jobs next year and will cause export growth to slow.

The president’s Iraq warning came out of yesterday’s press conference, which garnered a lot of front-page space, during which Clinton said he thinks Hussein still has not met his international obligations regarding weapons inspection. When Clinton was asked if he thinks Saddam is crazy, he replied, reports the NYT, “Well, if he is, he’s clever crazy..” USAT says the press conference seemed “designed to counter a spate of recent news stories that have portrayed Clinton as more engaged in his golf game than his government,” and goes on to say it was “the longest presidential news conference in the television age.” The WP says it was the longest one of the Clinton presidency. The NYT says it was the “longest ever of any president.”

The WP goes into much more detail about the conference’s actual questions and answers than say, the NYT, which summarizes exchanges more and puts the space saved thus to use making meta-comments about the goings-on. For instance, the Times dwells quite a bit on aides’ various unsuccessful attempts to get their boss to bring the event to a close. And it’s the Times, not the WP or USAT, that notes that the president spent several minutes describing how he came up with the name “Buddy” for his new Labrador puppy.

The Wall Street Journal “Tax Report” notes that a bill passing the House recently would grant accountants and other tax advisers the privilege of client confidentiality that is currently only enjoyed in tax matters by lawyers. The change would give new privacy to taxpayers who can afford to pay a tax preparer but not hire a lawyer. The Journal also notes that some accountants see the new provision as a powerful marketing tool.

As suspected, Maureen Dowd couldn’t resist the “Love Story” non-story. But since the obvious political angles had already been (over)-reported, she opts for doing an interview with the woman who claims to be the real model for Jenny. Continuing the theme of getting to the bottom of books published in 1970, maybe Dowd’s next column will be the unmasking of “J,” who, you won’t recall, wrote “The Sensuous Woman.” Maybe it’ll be Tipper.