Today's Papers

The Zero Effect

USA Today

leads with yesterday’s U.S. and worldwide stock rally. The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times lead with the balanced budget proposed yesterday by President Clinton–the first such in thirty years. The New York Times goes with Madeleine Albright’s attempt to line up Saudi support for any U.S. military operation against Iraq.

According to USAT, a 14 percent jump in Hong Kong’s stock market on Monday fueled the Dow’s 201 point jump. The paper also cites as a factor the spreading belief that President Clinton will survive his sex scandal. The rally also drove the S&P 500 above 1000 for the first time ever.

The WP lead emphasizes that the Clinton balanced budget proposal bars substantial new spending until Social Security is fixed. The paper notes that in contrast to most past years, this proposed budget is not arriving on Capitol Hill dead on arrival. The coverage also features various negative reactions from the likes of Trent Lott, John Kasich, and Newt Gingrich, who is quoted, “This is a budget only a liberal could love.” The biggest criticism is the budget’s use of a proposed tobacco settlement to partially offset new domestic social spending provisions. But, says the Post, according to polls, these priorities generally conform to what the voters want.

The NYT budget off-lead covers much the same ground but is a bit more sensitive to the political angle, saying the budget presents the president with “another opportunity to portray himself as absorbed in governing, and to deflect accusations that he had an affair..” The LAT also highlights political considerations, saying that the budget was “designed to give Democrats an upper hand in November’s congressional elections and provide Vice President Al Gore with an edge as the 2000 presidential election approaches.”

The main Wall Street Journal “Politics and Policy” piece says that despite opening Republican potshots, there is likely to be agreement about the provisions dealing with child care, transportation, and tobacco taxes. The Journal sees the big conflicts coming over the expansion of Medicare to those younger than 65, a minimum wage increase, and national teacher testing.

The NYT lead reports that Madeleine Albright came away from her talks with Saudi leaders with a statement of support for military action if diplomacy fails. However, the paper says, she wants more: access to Saudi air bases like the U.S. had in Desert Storm. The Times says the Saudis might agree to let their bases be used for support aircraft, but not bombers. While seeking support, Albright has, says the Times, made it clear the U.S. is prepared to go it alone. The WP discloses that Albright did win aircraft staging permission from Kuwait and is likely also to get green-lighted by Bahrain, which she visits next.

The Times also passes along word that Russian negotiators are trying to cobble a deal that would allow an ad hoc weapons inspection of eight heretofore-off-limits presidential palace sites. But the U.S. is not enthusiastic. The LAT also puts the Albright mission on the front.

The NYT front reports that there’s been a more than forty percent drop in AIDS cases, both in New York City and nationally. The trend also makes the LAT front, and is inside at the WP. The likeliest explanation: the newer drug therapies.

The NYT has today’s new Whitefluid development: Monica L. visited the White House, not ten times as has been variously reported, but “about three dozen times” after leaving her White House job. She was, says the paper, usually cleared by the president’s personal secretary. The paper’s sources are officials who have either seen or been briefed about the White House visitation logs. Ms. L.’s Pentagon bosses say her White House trips weren’t for them. A White House spokesman wouldn’t confirm the number of visits for the Times, although one senior official there said the number “sounds about right.”

“TP” had to read yesterday’s WP twice before noticing that key members of the Post editorial staff are apparently suffering the cerebral ill effects of too much exposure to brightly colored polyester. Witness this lead on Monday’s front: “The issue of whether disabled golfer Casey Martin should be allowed to use a golf cart in tournament play has captured the nation’s imagination for weeks.”

The LAT front reports that, in an attempt to highlight Southern California’s virtues as a technology marketplace, today a nickname will be chosen for the region that will figure in an aggressive marketing campaign. The paper says it will probably be “Tech Coast.” “Today’s Papers” is still partial to “Silicone Valley.”