Today's Papers

Government Shutdown? No, Government Shut Up!

The Washington Post leads with yesterday’s partisan spitballs: President Clinton declared that congressional Republicans are so scandal-frenzied that that they haven’t yet passed the appropriations measures necessary to start the new fiscal year. Republicans immediately issued retaliatory fire. The New York Times leads with a Census Bureau report that the ranks of Americans without health insurance swelled by 1.7 million last year. The Los Angeles Times leads with Hurricane Georges’$2 100mph whirl through the Florida Keys, a story also carried on the WP and NYT fronts. Despite 300 deaths in the Caribbean, no casualties have yet been reported in Florida.

The NYT lead says that 16.1% of Americans (43.4 million people) are uninsured, the highest number since 1992. The number of poor who are uninsured held steady, while the middle class suffered a hit. This development is surprising, the Times notes, because the economy is so robust. Among the possible explanations for the trend: Fewer people are on welfare, which is an automatic gateway to Medicaid coverage; small businesses, which dominate the new-job sector, often do not provide health insurance; and costs associated with health care and health insurance are increasing.

The WP lead (mirrored in a NYT front-page article) reports that an “invigorated” Clinton averted a federal shutdown–the new fiscal year starts next week–by signing a temporary funding measure Friday. Clinton used the opportunity to castigate Congress for putting “partisanship over progress, politics over people” and dallying on important issues. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott quarterbacked the Republican counter-attack, calling Clinton’s remarks a “gratuitous slap” from the “Fundraiser-in-Chief,” a reference to Clinton’s imminent departure for a three-day fundraising trip.

Acrimony spewed fast and fierce yesterday. The LAT off-lead peddles the paper’s telephone interview with Newt Gingrich, in which the House Speaker called for the President to waive his attorney-client privilege and cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. Gingrich lashed out against “the level of arrogance and duplicity by this White House. To this day, they haven’t told the truth.”

In more Lewinsky developments, reported all around: Another batch of Starr documents is headed to the Government Printing Office for release to the public late next week. Edited versions of the taped conversations between Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky will also be released sometime thereafter.

The NYT and WP both run inside stories, albeit with different slants, on Germany’s down-to-the-wire race for Sunday’s elections. The NYT emphasizes that the two main parties–Helmut Kohl’s Christian Democrats and Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats–have fundamentally identical platforms. Since both pledge to continue Germany’s strong social programs, support the introduction of the euro, and implement tax reform, the election may come down to German voters’ personal opinions of Kohl. But do the voters themselves know what they think? Not yet. The WP says that one in five German voters remain undecided. The WP article sketches out possible post-election coalition arrangements.

The WP reports inside that the Pentagon called Friday for a review of all military Internet sites which are accessible publicly. While not catalyzed by any particular event, the Pentagon’s action reflects a variety of security concerns, including the online availability of personal data about servicemen.

Now, a royal example of how to decline a gift: The WP Style “Names and Faces” column reports that Auckland University’s Injury Prevention Centre donated a pair of panties to Queen Elizabeth. Not just any panties, mind you–they had special hip-protector inserts for the 98-year-old Queen Mother. The gift was returned to the university with a note of polite refusal from the Queen Mother’s lady-in-waiting–thank you, but the gift was too much of a “personal nature” to accept.