Today's Papers

Shattering Glass-Steagall

The Washington Post leads with a House Republican plan to cut Government spending across-the-board by 1.4 percent. The Republicans contend that cutting $4.5 billion from federal agencies and delaying $1.3 billion in health spending will fill the hole in their budget. Administration officials argue that the Republican plan does not add up and that the proposal would force layoffs and harm military readiness. House Majority Leader Richard Armey (R-Tex.) explained his vision of how the Defense Department could cut 1.4 percent from its $260 billion budget: “Instead of having two colonels to hold your paper, you’ll have only one major.” The NYT and the LAT carry the story inside.

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times lead with the product of decades of debate and intensive lobbying–an agreement to transform American banking laws.

Democrats and Republicans resolved to repeal the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law, which restricted the cross-ownership of banks, brokerages, and insurers. If the accord is enacted, a NYT analysis forecasts that financial institutions will agglomerate into “universal banks” to provide one-stop financial shopping. Consumers could benefit from reduced costs. The LAT notes that the bill will prohibit nonfinancial companies from buying banks.

Even though Senate Republicans acceded to a Democratic provision that will prevent banks with unsatisfactory lending records from moving into other financial services, advocates for disadvantaged borrowers argue that the agreement fails to strengthen fair lending laws. Yesterday, the WP was able to squeeze early news of the 2 a.m. agreement into a late edition. Today, the story is the Post’s off-lead. All papers report that the stock market soared over 172.5 points on news of the accord.

The LAT fronts a United Nations Security Council vote to send 6,000 peacekeepers to Sierra Leone. A NYT story explains that the peacekeepers will disarm Sierra Leone rebels. The United States will contribute logistical support to the operation, but no combat troops. On Monday, the Security Council is expected to approve sending 10,000 U.N. troops to East Timor. The new commitments will double the number of peacekeepers in the field. The U.N. is also considering sending as many as 20,000 peacekeepers to the Congo.

The Post fronts Russia’s acceptance and disavowal of responsibility for the bombing of a Chechen market. The incident cost over 100 lives. Among the dead are women and children. A Russian military spokesman said that special forces bombed the market because it was actually an arms bazaar. But Russian Prime Minster Vladimir Putin claimed that the explosion was caused by warring Chechen rebels. The NYT and LAT carry the story inside. All papers assert that evidence points towards a Russian bombardment. According to the New York Times, as violence spreads Chechens are fleeing into the neighboring republic of Ingushetia, where it is estimated that 185,000 civilians are seeking refuge.

All the papers bury their coverage of the New Hampshire debate among contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. The NYT says that the five candidates “virtually ignored” front-runner George W. Bush and focused on criticizing Bill Clinton. The WP asserts that after the debate the five attending politicians blasted Bush by arguing that his absence from the stage was an affront to voters. “I think he was the big loser here tonight,” Steve Forbes said of the absent Bush. (Slate’s Jacob Weisberg analyzes the debate and highlights its stranger moments.)

A NYT piece reports on a particularly creative Internet start-up., the brainchild of former Playboy director Ron Harris, auctions the eggs of fashion models to the highest bidder (presumably infertile couples.) Even though the site will not premiere until Monday, Ron has already received a $42,000 bid for one of his angel’s eggs. Some ethicists are troubled by the combination of e-commerce, eugenics and egg pimping.