Today's Papers

Send in the Clones

President Clinton’s proposal to expand Medicare coverage leads at USA Today and the New York Times and is the top national story at the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

The dailies report that Clinton is aiming to make Medicare available to those retiring at 62 and even to workers as young as age 55 who find themselves without company health insurance. The administration claims the expansion will pay for itself through increased user fees. The NYT says this represents another incremental step toward providing health insurance to all Americans, part of the piecemeal strategy Clinton adopted after the failure of his comprehensive health care reform. The WP says it’s the largest expansion of Medicare in a quarter century, and notes that an enthusiastic supporter, the chief lobbyist for AARP, dismisses cost-based objections by commenting that until recently everybody thought there was a budget deficit too. (This is a form of argument you can bet you will now hear again and again, in all sorts of contexts.)

When everybody does the same story you get to compare headlines. The clearest and most succinct is USAT’s “Clinton: Expand Medicare.”

The LAT runs a top-of-the-front photo of survivors of a massacre in Algeria last weekend and the USAT off-lead gives some of the details: villagers are abandoning their homes to avoid the viscious attacks by Moslem extremists that have killed more than 1,200 people just this week–on top of some 75,000 such murders since 1992. Incredibly, reports USAT, U.N. human rights experts have not yet traveled to Algeria to look into this.

The death of Rep. Sonny Bono draws a surprising amount of coverage. USAT dedicates its front section cover story to Bono, and both the WP and LAT put two Bono stories apiece above their folds. Only the NYT holds back, with only a small picture “reefer” to the inside on its front bottom.

The Post calls Bono a “respected congressman.” The paper also states that President Clinton, who “grew up with the comedy and singing team of ‘Sonny and Cher’,” credited Bono with an “astute perspective.” In its second front-page Bono piece, the Post memorializes him as “one smart cookie” capable of “piquant clarity.” But in these pieces, examples do not abound. The LAT joins the chorus, saying that Bono “made his mark on Capitol Hill.” With all due respect, what mark was that?

The Wall Street Journal “Tax Report” notes that although the Alternative Minimum Tax was originally designed to ensure that most upper-income taxpayers fork over at least some tax, if it isn’t changed in any way, in the year 2007 it will apply to 8.4 million taxpayers, including many in the middle class.

The USAT front reports that a Chicago scientist-entrepreneur has raised several hundred thousand dollars towards his goal of opening a for-profit clinic that will clone babies from the genetic materials of childless couples. His announced goal is to produce such a pregnancy within a year and a half. The WP carries this story inside.

Coming on the heels of Michael Kennedy’s death in a similar accident, Sonny Bono’s death prompts a number of pieces about skiing safety. Both the WP and LAT stress that many serious skiing accidents occur in the late afternoon, with the LAT observing that Kennedy was killed at 4:15 PM, Bono at 4:30 PM. The Post and NYT both note that despite these dangers, far more Americans are killed bicycling. But the Times notes that the use of ski helmets is on the rise. (Look for the Kennedy/Bono deaths to spur much talk of mandatory ski helmet laws, and look for the same sort of libertarian resistance that has marked motorcycle helmet laws.)

The WP apparently decided that enough time had passed to entitle it to publish an article looking at the Kennedy/Bono deaths’ lighter side, about wacky fatalities caused by trees.