Today's Papers

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

The Washington Post’s top non-local story  is Tiger Woods’ record-breaking 15-stroke victory at the U.S. Open. This story dominates the front pages: Woods gets above-the-fold pictures and stories in the Post, the New York Times   (a two-column off-lead), and USA Today. The Los Angeles Times   reefers its story  with an above-the-fold picture, and the sports-averse Wall Street Journal mentions his triumph in its front-page “World-Wide” news box. The NYT leads  with a policy proposal from Al Gore: retirement-savings accounts, a 401(k)-ish program to supplement Social Security. Citizens would contribute to privately managed portfolios and the government would match these contributions with tax breaks. The plan, which does not touch Social Security funds, is Gore’s answer to George W. Bush’s idea for voluntary, private investment of Social Security revenues. This story is fronted by the Post   and USAT   and reefered by the LAT. The LAT leads  with a cease-fire between Ethiopia and Eritrea, a story stuffed by the others. The U.S.-backed accord will save the lives of not only soldiers but their families, which have been starving in a drought while fathers and sons leave home to fight. USAT leads  with the failure of the Reserve Officer Training Corps to meet its quota of commissioned officers. With the officer candidate schools struggling to compensate for the ROTC shortfall, the services have accelerated the promotion of junior officers. None of the others run this story. The WSJ tops its “World-Wide” news box with a health-care scoop: President Clinton will argue for the restoration of up to a sixth of the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid resulting from the 1997 balanced budget agreement. The money would come from newly projected surpluses.

The LAT calls  Woods “the biggest runaway since Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont Stakes.” USAT calls  this year’s U.S. Open “TigerWoodstock.” And the Post opens  with this purple paragraph: “Now every runaway victory in sports, every demonstration of ability and superiority previously thought impossible, has a new benchmark.” The 24-year-old won his first Open with a 12-under-par 272; his 15-stroke margin of victory broke not just the Open record (set in 1899), but the record for all major tournaments (set in 1862). The NYT and USAT report that some fans dropped to their knees and gave him “we-are-not-worthy” bows. The Post quotes NBC President Dick Ebersol comparing Woods to Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan.

Gore’s voluntary retirement program would cost $200 billion over 10 years and target the lower and middle classes. A married couple making $30,000 a year could contribute $500 to an account and get a $1,500 tax break; a couple making $100,000 could contribute $1,500 and get a $500 tax break. The portfolio could not expand more than $2,000 a year, and couples earning more than $100,000 a year could not participate. Contributions would be tax-deductible and would be taxed only upon withdrawal. (Bush’s proposal, by contrast, would allow workers to divert part of their Social Security payroll deductions into a privately managed account; when they retire, they would keep the invested money but lose Social Security benefits equal to the amount originally invested.) Gore calls his plan “Social Security plus” and Bush’s “Social Security minus.”

This correction  runs in the NYT: “A front-page article last Monday about the growth of Canada’s petroleum industries misstated the amount of oil to be produced in a planned expansion at the Hibernia field in Newfoundland. It is 65 million barrels a year, not a day.” (Sixty-five million barrels a day, by the way, would nearly double the world’s oil supply.)