Today's Papers

Bill Them Later

The Los Angeles Times leads with yet another congressional defeat of campaign reform legislation. The New York Times goes with the latest on the Senate anti-smoking bill. USA Today leads with a General Accounting Office finding that most FAA field inspectors feel their bosses ignore their safety recommendations. And the Washington Post leads with the filing of court papers by President Clinton’s lawyers that charge Paula Jones’ legal team with being a “stalking horse” for Ken Starr and with trying to sabotage the case proceedings by raising unproven salacious charges, such as, in its most recent filings, an unsubstantiated third-party version of a 20-year-old Clinton rape rumor.

The LAT says that prospects for enacting comprehensive campaign reform this year are pretty much dashed because on Monday the House leadership of Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey adopted rules requiring any such measure to pass, not by the simple majority that seemed in the offing, but by a two-thirds “super-majority.” The LAT reminds readers that the House’s commitment to the issue dates from a much-publicized handshake deal Gingrich made with President Clinton in 1995. The paper quotes a California congressman as saying, “The process has been rigged… . What’s happening today is a real sham.” The collapse of reform also makes the WP and NYT fronts.

This is the third time in recent months that campaign reform legislation has fizzled. The headline, “GOP Leadership Defeats Campaign Reform Bill,” is getting to be right up there with “Extremist Group Claims Credit for Bombing” and “Union Officials Indicted in New Jersey.”

Picking up where yesterday’s USAT and WP leads left off, the NYT lead explains that when, on Monday, Sen. John McCain officially unveiled the comprehensive tobacco bill he’d been putting together, it was seen to place no restrictions on private lawsuits against the tobacco companies, although it does contain an annual damage ceiling of $6.5 billion (awards in excess of that amount would be owed in full, but could be carried forward to subsequent years). In order to qualify though, reports the Wall Street Journal, tobacco manufacturers would have to meet targets for reducing underage smoking and cut back on outdoor and cartoon advertising. The Journal says the absence of a restriction on lawsuits was a surprise to all sides. A tobacco industry lawyer is quoted in the NYT saying that the measure would lead to “a massive contraband market,” and would “almost certainly drive companies into bankruptcy.” In the Journal, tobacco deal strategist Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore says industry types “think their stock prices are going to plummet.” The NYT says that despite such opposition, McCain has won substantial backing on his committee. (“Today’s Papers” can’t help but notice that McCain’s name is all over the dailies these days–besides his smoking bill, he is also one of the Senate’s chief advocates of banning “soft money.” All in all, excellent issues to run for president on.)

The WSJ “Work Week” column is given over to a topic near and dear to TP’s heart: working at night. The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate there are now 3.2 million folks on “graveyard” full-time. And yes, it’s quiet and you can go to the cheap movies when you’re off, but according to the Journal, night workers are more susceptible to heart attacks, stomach troubles and depression. And 60 percent more likely to get a divorce.

An editorial in the WP notes that a full 30 years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, whites are still far more likely to own homes, even controlling for wealth and income. The piece goes on to note that in a recent study made in Washington, D.C., when 150 pairs of black and white testers who were matched in income contacted local lenders, they encountered evidence of racial discrimination 41 percent of the time. Significantly, says the WP “the bias did not take the form of a simple ‘no’ that would show up as clearly discriminatory in records. Instead, lenders didn’t return phone calls, didn’t keep appointments, offered more expensive or inferior products or made greater demands for credit information.” The editorial endorses President Clinton’s budget request for an additional $22 million to combat housing discrimination. A large chunk of that money will, says the paper, go towards testers.

An obvious but politically incorrect fact underlying the Kathleen Willey brouhaha is that the main reason she got a one-on-one meeting with Clinton in the first place was probably that she was a woman. If a man has to meet with someone to accomplish a given task he’d just as soon that the someone have breasts and smell nice. Women know this and take full advantage. (And why shouldn’t they?) Witness the WP, which reports that Andie MacDowell is meeting with Reps. Dick Gephardt and John Dingell to lobby for more stringent oil pipeline regulations for western Montana, where she happens to own a home. Guys, you try getting that meeting.