Today's Papers

Credit in the Cards?

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times lead with Saturday’s meeting in Washington of the Group of Seven industrial nations. The Washington Post leads with next year’s planned exodus of 33 HMOs from Medicare.

The G-7 meeting resulted in a statement–described in the NYT’s second paragraph as a “vaguely worded communiqu,”–which cites the world’s worsening financial problems and recommends “exploring” President Clinton’s call for extending emergency lines of credit to emerging nations buffeted by financial troubles. France and England have voiced support for Clinton’s proposal, but Germany and Japan maintain reservations. The WP’s inside article on the subject highlights Japan as the G-7 meeting’s focus. After Japan’s Finance Minister met with Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin in the morning, Japan unveiled its own $30 billion aid package for Asia. The Clinton administration immediately criticized it as not addressing Japan’s more fundamental need for bank restructuring–to which the Japanese Finance Minister shot back that the U.S. plan will never lift off unless a reluctant House approves $18 billion for the International Monetary Fund.

The WP lead, a national story with a local focus, says that 33 HMOs will leave Medicare early next year because they are not recovering their costs. (Thirty-one other HMOs are withdrawing in selected areas.) This development will force almost 250,000 patients nationwide either to enroll in a different Medicare-covered HMO, or to switch to a standard, more expensive Medicare plan. Yet even as so many HMOs pull out of Medicare, there are concurrently 25 HMOs hoping to expand their Medicare involvement and still more HMOs with applications pending.

A WP front-pager explores the tangled web of geopolitical relationships around Azerbaijan’s massive oil reserves (which could potentially produce 3 million barrels of oil a day). Maneuvering around countries such as Russia and Iran, both with vested interests in the region, is among the bedeviling challenges for big U.S. oil companies and for the Clinton Administration.

All papers run stories on Sunday’s elections in Brazil, in which incumbent President Fernando Henrique Cardoso is expected to triumph handily despite the country’s economic turmoil. Described by the LAT as “one of the hemisphere’s most impressive presidents,” Cardoso is seen by voters as the only realistic person for surmounting the financial crisis which has seen Brazil’s stock market plunge 41%. Among the alternative candidates: a left-wing politician expected to get one-quarter of the vote and, more exotically, an “excitable surgeon known simply as Eneas, who calls for Brazil to build an atomic bomb” (in the NYT’s words).

The NYT runs an op-ed by Gerald Ford. Breaking his silence on the Lewinsky scandal, the former President asserts that President Clinton “has broken faith with those who elected him.” Ford proposes the following punishment: “A harshly worded rebuke as rendered by members of both parties,” to be administered in the well of the House chamber. “Let it be dignified, honest, and above all, cleansing,” says Ford. As a NYT news article points out, Ford’s op-ed represents a possible boon for the Clinton administration, since Ford is breaking rank with Republicans who advocate impeachment.

The cover of the NYT “Book Review” (plus an inside WP “Book World” piece) is given to Philip Gourevitch’s extraordinary book on the Rwanda massacres, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families. Gourevitch’s narrative demonstrates the “collective criminality” of Rwandan Hutus–neighbors hacking neighbors to death–as well as the all-too-familiar inaction of the U.N. The NYT reviewer, who notes that clothed skeletons still litter the floor of one death-church-turned-memorial, fears that the rehabilitation envisioned by Gourevitch may yet be a long way off.