Everybody leads with yesterday’s Senate testimony by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, in which he endorsed substantial tax cuts. The Wall Street Journal, which puts the story atop its front-page biz news box, calls the comments a “striking reversal” of his long-held view that government surpluses should be dedicated to driving down the national debt. Greenspan said the projected federal budget surpluses are so big now that the country can afford to do both. He also said that consequential inflation is not much of a worry since the economy’s current growth rate is “probably very close to zero.”
USA Today, which led yesterday tipping Greenspan’s switcheroo, today goes high emphasizing its likely impact in Washington, “a lobbying frenzy,” enumerating a number of tax relief proposals now being pushed that far exceed the dollar amounts at stake in even President George W. Bush’s $1.6 trillion 10-year plan. Everybody has Sen. Ernest Hollings’ comment to Greenspan: “You’re going to start a stampede here this morning.”
The papers all note that Greenspan came out for an across-the-board tax cut, as Bush supports. The coverage observes that Greenspan didn’t actually endorse Bush’s cut plan and that Bush also saw the testimony as distanced. However, the Los Angeles Times finds Bush aides “less restrained” than that, and the WSJ says that Greenspan stopped “only just” short of an endorsement. The New York Times and several other papers note that Greenspan in his testimony disagreed with Bush’s idea that cuts are the best way to prevent recession. And both the NYT and the Washington Post report that Greenspan also suggested cuts be made somehow conditional on the government receiving the money it’s counting on its current surplus projections, with the Times adding that this is not something the Republicans have seriously considered.
The WSJ ever so lightly-slightly implies that with deficit hawk Clinton out and tax-cutter Bush in, Greenspan was trimming his sails to adjust to the new prevailing winds, saying that his remarks showed he was “a canny political player.” The NYT also goes for the encoded swipe when it calls Greenspan’s Thursday testimony “surprisingly forthright.” Hey guys–if you mean it, say it and explain it.
The NYT lead mentions very low that Greenspan also said there is some risk to the national economy if the California power crisis is not resolved. The Post and USAT leads don’t mention this, nor does the Journal story. But the LAT breaks out a second front-pager on this under the headline, “POWER CRISIS A NATIONAL THREAT, GREENSPAN SAYS.”
USAT fronts, and everybody else stuffs, problems over the past two days plaguing most of Microsoft’s Web sites. (Hey USAT, including Slate!) The paper says access difficulties from Tuesday to Wednesday night were the result of an employee’s mistake and that those occurring Thursday afternoon were caused by an outside hack foisting huge troves of unwanted data on the MS system. The company has notified the FBI about the denial of service attack.
The NYT adds an important detail to the Marc Rich pardon saga, reporting inside that several people who provided pro-Rich letters used by his lawyers to prevail upon Bill Clinton did not know their comments were being used in such an effort. The story has one of Rich’s lawyers admitting this, even though all 52 letters in the official petition were described as “Letters Expressing Support for the Pardon of Mr. Marc Rich.”
The WP reports inside that, after being fired from her old $98,000-a-year, politically appointed DOD gig for refusing to resign at the end of President Clinton’s term, Linda Tripp yesterday complained that the Pentagon leaked her efforts to land a new government job at a military seminar center in a Bavarian Alps ski town. Tripp charged that the leaks led to an article about her efforts in Stars and Stripes that jeopardized her chances of getting the job. The story quotes a Pentagon spokesman pointing out that S and S is not a DOD mouthpiece, but it doesn’t have him denying the leak. The Post also reports that Tripp’s attorneys requested news organizations use newer, post-plastic surgery pictures of her and provided reporters with floppies and a Web site address for obtaining them. The paper even prints the Web address, www.lindatripp.com.
Today’s Papers found Colin Powell’s statements to State Department staffers–as reported in the NYT and WP–refreshing, especially the part describing his lack of interest in being treated like a pasha when traveling on the government’s dime: “To save a lot of cable traffic now, I have no food preferences, no drink preferences, a cheeseburger will be fine. I like Holiday Inns.”
The WSJ op-ed page has some all-too-rare nonidolatrous sports reporting from the keyboard of Slate’s own Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Gregg Easterbrook, who can’t believe the tender treatment Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis–who pled guilty to an obstruction count in connection with a street knifing committed in his presence that left two men dead–is getting, not just from the NFL, which didn’t make him miss a down and fined him all of 5.3 percent of a season’s salary, but also from the press. Easterbrook notes that a recent NYT laudatory effort ran under the headline, “RAY LEWIS TRIUMPHS AFTER A TRYING YEAR,” and he adds, “It was a pretty trying year for the dead guys, too.”
If you were the WP and you had just given $100,000 to George W. Bush’s inauguration, how would you headline the story mentioning that fact (in the seventh paragraph)? Of course: “INAUGURAL COMMITTEE SET TO BREAK EVEN.”