Today's Papers

Tax Cuts, Yes; Tacos, No

USA Today and the Washington Post lead with fallout over the expulsion of Russian diplomats suspected of spying. The New York Times leads with Republican senators’ quest for a $60 billion tax cut, effective immediately, aimed at stimulating the economy. The Los Angeles Times leads with another school shooting at another San Diego-area high school. Five were injured in the suburb of El Cajon, none critically, and the 18-year-old student suspect was captured alive after a cop shot him in the face and buttocks.

The State Department ordered immediate expulsion of four Russian diplomats who, according to an anonymous  Bush official, worked with FBI agent and accused spy Robert P. Hanssen. Forty-six more spook-y diplomats were asked to leave by July 1. Russia vows an “adequate” response–likely a mirror expulsion from Moscow of 50-odd U.S. diplomats. The NYT says these events “revived a cold war tone” and “signaled a marked departure” from President Clinton’s “policies of engagement with Russia.” USAT’s lead says the number of Russian diplomat-spies here has risen 40 percent in the last five years and is now at Cold War-era levels. The spies’ focus has shifted from military to industrial secrets.

The NYT lead says Republican senators, led by Pete Domenici, R-N.M., have proposed an immediate $60 billion income tax cut in addition to the cuts President Bush’s tax plan would roll out in 2002. Democrats say they are “inclined to go along.” The $60 billion cut, effective this year, is meant to jump-start our economy, but the NYT finds several details left to be ironed out: Would tax rebate checks be mailed immediately to last known addresses? Would they be divided evenly, even among those who don’t owe taxes, or be based on taxes paid? Will a rebate of a few hundred dollars change the spending habits of the rich? The story tops the Wall Street Journal’s worldwide news box, but the WP puts its tax story inside on Page Four and doesn’t mention the Domenici plan until the 14th (and penultimate) paragraph.

USAT and the WP front a Bush administration move ending a half-century-old tradition: The American Bar Association has long advised the White House on potential candidates for federal judgeships but will now be given candidate names only after the names are made public and brought to the Senate. USAT says this “reflects the new administration’s aggressive effort to make the federal judiciary more conservative.” The WP says the ABA cooked its goose with conservatives 14 years ago when it gave Judge Bork a less-than-stellar review.

An op-ed in the NYT says a sinking Nasdaq could squelch U.S. intervention abroad. With our economy slowed, Americans may suddenly ask if we can afford foreign missions. Also, we don’t look so powerful anymore in foreign eyes. Says one Wall Streeter, “Look, the Nasdaq is America’s Viagra – without it, we just don’t feel quite so potent.”

A USAT front-pager revels in the sniping between Beijing and Paris over who should host the 2008 Olympics. First, China’s People’s Daily newspaper wrote that “errant dogs and rabid dogs” in Paris, and their leavings, could “harm” the city’s effort. The French Olympic Bid’s president cattily responded, “Dogs are dogs. They do the same thing everywhere. … It’s just that there are no dogs in China because they eat them.”

The LAT held its front a bit to wait for the Mir splashdown (perhaps guessing the beleaguered space station was good for one last calamity), but to the great relief of Pacific Rimmers, re-entry was uneventful. Sadly, debris did not hit Taco Bell’s floating target (according to the company’s Web site early this morning), so you can just forget about that free taco.