Today's Papers

The Kindest Cut

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today lead with the Fed’s decision to reduce key interest rates by one-quarter of a percentage point. This is the third such cut in two months, and the Fed promises that it will be the last–though financial analysts aren’t so sure. The New York Times sets the scene for Thursday’s impeachment hearing.

All the major papers report that the rate cut will stimulate consumer spending by lowering the cost of home equity and credit card loans. All papers also report that consumer spending, however, is currently at healthy levels. Why cut rates? The LAT–alone among the majors–makes it clear to the layperson that the Fed’s move was directed at the bond markets. Certain U.S. businesses are having trouble selling bonds, indicating that investors are worried about financial crises abroad. The rate cut is meant to reassure anxious Wall Streeters that the hale and hearty U.S. economy will remain immune to international crises.

Most quoted experts aren’t convinced by the Fed’s prediction that further rate cuts won’t be necessary. The Wall Street Journal reports that 16 of 18 experts surveyed last week by a macroeconomic forecasting firm expect rates to be lowered yet again.

On political (i.e. Lewinsky) beat, the papers lead with the news that, on Thursday, Kenneth Starr will spend two hours detailing a White House pattern of obstructing justice in matters including, but extending beyond, the Lewinsky affair. The White House will have 30 minutes to question Starr.

How will Starr play on TV? Some quoted sources note that he’s a seasoned appellate lawyer, others stress his lack of experience with matters political. (It’s a classic round of the DC “expectations” game–Starr’s most modest reviews come from his friends.) The WP reports that the GOP hopes Starr’s performance can “energize the lagging drive” to impeach President Clinton.

Papers also report the popular reaction to yesterday’s release of the Tripp tapes. Lewinsky–dubbed a “zaftig little rascal” by the hometown LAT–is generally perceived as childlike, weak, and sort of, like, stupid. Tripp is said to be a meatier character–genuinely caring at times, staggeringly manipulative at others.

The lead international story at the WP is that Kosovan rebels have begun to regroup now that the Serbs have left. The NYT and WSJ lead with the Knesset’s ratification of the peace memorandum finalized at Wye, Maryland last month.

The WP runs “Surgery on Self in South Atlantic Saves Sailor’s Life–Via Satellite E-Mail, Boston Physician Assists Injured Man Competing in Yacht Race” as a front-page feature. The solo sailor–a former Russian commando–almost died, but is now in Capetown and intends to continue the race. Readers who admire a stiff upper lip will be impressed by excerpts from the doctor-patient correspondence. A sample: “My right elbow does not look good. Some yellow spot in the middle of red, and it feels like dead. Waiting for your help … Have been sitting on the bloody cabin floor almost completely naked … watching as my life drop by drop leave me.”