Today's Papers

Teachers’ Pet Peeves

USA Today

and the Washington Post lead with the rejection of a proposed merger of the nation’s two main teachers’ unions by the membership of one of them, the National Education Association (and this is the off-lead at the New York Times and is above the fold at the Los Angeles Times). The NYT leads with the retreat of the nation’s biggest HMOs from managed care programs for the poor and the elderly. The LAT goes with the launch in Yugoslavia’s troubled Kosovo province of patrols jointly conducted by U.S., British, and Russian diplomatic observers. The patrols, explains the paper, were first proposed by the Russians but have since been embraced by the U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke, who stresses that the two countries are now working together to defuse the Kosovo crisis.

Both USAT and the WP explain that had the NEA merged with the American Federation of Teachers, this would have created the U.S.’ largest labor union. The WP says that the no vote came even though the leaders of both unions favored the move. The merger idea, says the Post, had gained strength recently in response to increased attempts to limit teacher rights and to give students publicly funded vouchers to attend private schools. But, both papers say, the stumbling block appears to be a fear among NEA members of becoming affiliated with the AFL-CIO, of which the AFT is a member. The WP mentions an NEA fear of being aligned too closely with the causes and politics of the AFL-CIO without specifying what these are. The paper does explain that the NEA tends to view itself as more non-partisan and more like a professional organization (like the AMA) than a trade union. USAT says that according to the NEA, the rivalry between the unions cost $100 million between 1973 and 1992.

According to the NYT, general operating losses and cuts in government payments have prompted the country’s biggest HMOs–such names as Pacificare, Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross and Blue Shield– to quit Medicare and Medicaid coverage in many different markets. The retreat from Medicaid–government-subsidized care for the poor and disabled–is the more pronounced of the two. Most of the Medicaid withdrawals, says the Times, have come in the most populous states with large pockets of urban poverty. With Medicare, it’s tended to be rural communities with few patients, clinics, or doctors. The HMO flight portends, says the Times, a return to skimping care for the poor and elderly.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the semiconductor business–seriously affected by the Asian crisis, a production glut and the advent of the $1,000 PC–is in a global slump, and that American manufacturers are certainly taking their share of the hits. U.S. chip companies that have laid off workers or tipped upcoming bad earnings include, says the paper, National Semiconductor, Atmel, Cypress Semiconductor and Seeq Technology. Even Intel has projected a flat second quarter and lower profit margins.

The WP passes along word from a weekend chat show that Kenneth Starr has decided he will not submit an interim report on his investigation of President Clinton before Congress recesses for the fall election campaigns. He will, said an aide, submit a report only if he determines there is substantial information that crimes have been committed. The aide also opined, reports the Post, that subpoenaing a sitting president is legally unproblematic, as is indicting one.

In its editorial advocating that the DOJ and FBI abandon their current policy against the use of computer encryption technology the feds are not at least indirectly privy to, the NYT explains President Clinton’s failure to oppose this law enforcement stance thusly: “[S]ince Attorney General Janet Reno has protected Mr. Clinton from an independent counsel on campaign finance, the White House is said to be loath to oppose either her or Louis Freeh, the F.B.I. Director, on this issue.” But the reader isn’t told who says this. A recurring theme of the many media post-mortems on the Time/CNN/nerve gas and Stephen Glass debacles–including of those issued by the NYT–has been a fervent tsk-tsking directed at unnamed sources. So shouldn’t this apply to the editorial pages too?