Today's Papers

Employers’ Bitter Pill

The Los Angeles Times’ top national story examines whether economists are able to assess accurately the global economy’s health. Growing pressure on employers to cover the cost of birth control as part of employee benefits is the New York Times’ off-lead and top national story. The Washington Post early edition’s top national article details a Clinton administration plan to topple Saddam Hussein.

The LAT reports that Japanese economic woes and decreased U.S. production have economists scratching their heads over the health of the world economy. Current methods of economic diagnosis are being questioned, and a global recession is seeming ever more possible to skeptical economists. The paper notes that with currency traders in London affecting Indonesian farmers, local economic events can set off chain reactions felt throughout the entire world. One prominent macro-economist calls today’s globalized economy “almost beyond human comprehension.”

The NYT says that family planning groups are pushing federal and state lawmakers to mandate employer coverage of contraception as part of employee healthcare plans. Lobbyists, decrying insurers’ coverage of Viagra but not birth control, have stepped up Congressional lobbying in recent months. Most employers and insurers oppose mandated coverage–they claim mandates of any sort make healthcare less affordable for all employees. One anti-mandate lobbyist states, “It may be good social policy. On the other hand, so is affordable healthcare.”

The WP says that a 27-page report has been prepared in response to Congress’ call for swift action against Saddam Hussein’s presidency. The report discloses U.S. plans to: 1) teach opposition groups organization and recruitment techniques, 2) fund an exile activities center in London, 3) index war crimes documents for future trials, and 4) establish an anti-Hussein “Radio Free Iraq.” Measures taken will be small in scale, as Congress has approved a mere $10 million towards the effort.

Both the NYT and LAT feature front page articles on the behind-the-scenes negotiations for immunity between the Lewinsky legal team and Ken Starr. The LAT says Starr was in a hurry to make a deal for key evidence (i.e., answering machine messages and semen-stained dress) that would help provide a timely and conclusive end to his investigation. The NYT reports that Lewinsky’s new attorneys–especially tough-talking Jacob A. Stein–had the tact and clout needed to obtain immunity for their client. The NYT reports that Stein put it to Starr in no uncertain terms: “I have one good trial left in me, and I’m going to put it at Monica’s disposal.”

Finally, an NYT op-ed by Maureen Dowd asks the Lewinsky-related question that has caused much concern here at TP: what kind of person asks her mother to keep a semen-stained dress for her? Dowd declines to answer, but does propose a far-reaching “gross-out theory” in which politics and media, driven by America’s gradual desensitization and need for stimulation, have fallen to new depths of tastelessness.