Today's Papers

Bush’s Tax Problems

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and  Washington Post all lead with President Clinton’s plea to Pakistan for détente with India. Clinton, who has called this region the world’s most volatile, made a direct, in-person appeal to the Pakistani government to end incursions into Indian-occupied Kashmir. He delivered the same request, albeit in more euphemistic form, to the entire country on Pakistani TV. Pakistani officials haven’t budged– indeed, the WP points out that Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s military leader, denies both Pakistani involvement in the raids into Kashmir and any discussion of them with Clinton. The Times relays the administration’s spin: Should the situation deteriorate to the point where India and Pakistan consider deploying their nuclear weapons, at least President Clinton now has a relationship with Musharraf upon which to draw.

The NYT and LAT report that the DOJ firmly rejected Friday’s settlement offer by Microsoft on the grounds that it would not substantially boost competition in the software industry. A verdict is expected as soon as Tuesday. Meanwhile, the feds and the 19 state attorneys general are already negotiating among themselves about what remedies to propose to Judge Jackson.

A WP front-pager announces that in 1999, federal income tax fell below 10 percent for the vast majority of Americans, the lowest level in four decades (this calculation doesn’t count Social Security or Medicare taxes, which have risen since the 1970s).  Apparently, George W. Bush doesn’t agree; earlier this month he alleged that, “after eight years of Clinton-Gore, we have the highest tax burden since World War II.” He has suggested a $1.1 trillion to $1.7 trillion cut over 10 years. The piece highlights a couple of instances of bad accounting on Bush’s part. He arrived at his current estimation of the tax burden by dividing tax revenue (both personal and corporate) into the nation’s gross domestic product. The GDP includes capital gains taxes but not capital gains earnings, making Bush’s numbers inflated. The piece also finds flaws with the “Bush Tax Calculator” posted on the candidate’s Web site: for example, it analyzes the tax burden for low-income parents without taking the earned-income tax credit into account. Bush’s plan would award 60 percent of the cuts to the wealthiest 10 percent of taxpayers. However, the online calculator doesn’t run numbers for those who earn more than $100,000.

A fuzzy NYT front-pager argues that soccer moms are still the voters to watch. Gore is currently five points ahead of Bush among women voters but 12 points behind among men. Women are more supportive of gun control than men, and the story surmises that this is why George W. Bush has recently distanced himself from the NRA. The 20th paragraph of the story quotes a Republican pollster who says that gun control could hurt Republican candidates among women even more than abortion. But four paragraphs later, the Times quotes a Democratic strategist saying that no one knows yet how the issue will play out on Election Day. Even more confusingly, the Times explains both parties’ emphasis on women voters by stating that “what were once considered ‘women’s issues,’ like education, are now near the top of the agenda for voters in general.” But if both genders are concerned about education now, why are the political consultants–and the Times–focusing on women voters?

A NYT front-pager is the latest to question the recent Greenspanology. The Fed has raised interest rates in anticipation of an inflationary labor shortage, but the Times says that companies aren’t running out of workers– instead, they’re finding them in new places, everywhere from college campuses to previously depressed rural and inner-city areas. The employment surveys on which Fed policy is based do not include those who say they do not desire work and those who already work part-time but are willing to increase their hours.

The WP prints a long, front-page examination of autistic children. Six years ago, 23,000 in this country were labeled autistic; now the number is over 54,000. Some researchers blame childhood vaccines and environmental poisons; others credit new awareness of the condition. The piece makes both cases but gives little indication as to who’s right.

A piece in the NYT “Week in Review” section reports on a novel trend in anti- domestic violence efforts. State agencies and advocacy groups are training hairstylists to identify signs of abuse, on the theory that women confide much more than their style and color preferences to the people who coif them. One women’s center in Connecticut aims to widen its program to include bartenders, taxi drivers, and veterinarians.

Is Dubya’s rhetorical style contagious? From a voter describing her feelings to the NYT: “I like Bush. I know he has some things about him, but I liked his father. I’m not voting for him because of his father, but I think he comes from a good family.”