Today's Papers

Gross Film Gross

The Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times lead with last night’s agreement by Republican House and Senate leaders on a tax cut bill. (The Democrats weren’t invited to the discussions.) USA Today goes inside with that story and leads instead with the first guilty plea in the Salt Lake Olympics bribery scandal, a story nobody else fronts. The plea bargain describes phony paperwork designed to falsely portray as a salary payments made by Salt Lake Olympic officials to the son of an influential IOC member from South Korea.

All the papers note that the GOP compromise tax bill, imposing an aggregate cut of $792 billion, provides for a reduction of one percentage point in all income tax rates. There’s also a drop in the top rate on capital gains, from 20 percent down to 18, a reduction in the “marriage penalty” for many couples filing jointly, and a phase-out of the inheritance tax that now applies to large estates. The tax rate reductions are conditioned on continued success at reducing the national debt. President Clinton has vowed to veto any bill putting this much of the budget surplus toward tax relief. The LAT and Wall Street Journal point out that the main political objective of the Republicans was to have an agreed-upon bill on the table to enable them to use the summer recess to build popular anti-veto pressure on Clinton.

The only real departure from the reporting template comes with the WP’s observation that high-tech lobbyists have been working feverishly for months to incorporate into the bill its R and D tax credit, a feature the paper calls a “particularly glittering prize.” The paper notes that the Silicon artists have included a former aide to Dick Armey and the brother of the White House chief of staff.

A WSJ front-page feature notes that even without such new wrinkles, the tax code allows many corporations to legally pay little or no federal income tax. More than half the nation’s corporations, says the Journal, quoting a GAO study, paid no federal income tax at all between 1989 and 1995. And in 1998, says the paper, General Motors managed to get itself in the 0.8 percent tax bracket. (This story is a dramatic reminder of the difference between the Journal’s news and editorial pages.)

The WP and LAT front a fresh study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appearing in today’s JAMA, with a counterintuitive result: a significant decline in high-school violence in the 1990s. One possible explanation of the disconnect that the stories don’t address: that the study ends with data from 1997, and 1998 and 1999 have been marked by some major school shootings.

Another JAMA study, written up at the WP and NYT, calculates that the cost of treating the nation’s gunshot wounds for a recent year, 1994, was $2.3 billion. Half of that cost, says the study, was ultimately borne by the government. The average cost of a gunshot wound that requires a hospital visit is $14,600 for emergency care and $35,400 for lifetime follow-up care.

The NYT, LAT, and USAT front, and the WP stuffs, word that an arbitration panel has ruled that the government must pay the heirs of Abraham Zapruder $16 million for the movie he shot of the Kennedy assassination. The Zapruder family had been asking for $30 million and the government had been offering $1 million.

The NYT runs a Reuters dispatch noting Mattel’s announcement that it will be licensing Barbie and Hot Wheels to a computer manufacturer. The Barbie computers will be silver with pink and purple floral accents and will come with a Barbie Digital Camera and a flowered Barbie mouse. The Hot Wheels model will feature the toy’s flame logo and a steering wheel.

The lead editorial at the LAT reminds that it’s been almost six years since Newt Gingrich promised to post all congressional proceedings on the Internet and almost four since the passage of the Electronic Freedom of Information Act, which required all federal agencies to grant Americans prompt access to relevant information in their databases. The paper observes that most branches of the U.S. government stand in violation of the Act. The Supreme Court of Mongolia has a Web site, says the LAT, but the U.S. Supreme Court does not.