Today's Papers

Chase to the Cut

Both the Washington Post and New York Times lead with the scramble among congressional leaders to address the federal budget crunch and the possibility that, at least in the short term, their response may include the politically volatile step of spending Social Security surplus funds. The top story in the Wall Street Journal’s front-page worldwide news box, which also covers this ground, emphasizes that Dick Cheney said yesterday that the administration is taking a “good hard look” at a capital gains tax cut and also at the idea of linking it to a minimum wage increase “to make it palatable to more Democrats.” The coverage reports another maneuver being taken quite seriously on Capitol Hill: an across-the-board spending cut. But all these stories report that the White House has not shifted from its stance that the tax cut already passed will, given a bit of time, prove to be all the catalyst the sagging economy needs. USA Today leads with a new National Academy of Sciences report to be released today, also fronted by the WP and NYT, suggesting that the stem-cell research program dictated by President Bush’s funding constraints ruling out further destruction of human embryos may not be capable of realizing the potential of such cells to treat a host of diseases. That’s why the NAS recommends the work be pursued more aggressively. The report also recommends research into therapeutic cloning–cloning to produce not human beings, but stem cells–a practice the House of Representatives has already voted to ban. The Los Angeles Times, which fronts the Washington budget scramble, leads with the ongoing plunge in most stock markets around the world, which sank more on Monday. The graphic accompanying the story shows that the U.S. stock market is down 17.3 percent since the beginning of the year–which is less of a loss than that seen in the markets of Brazil, France, Japan, Germany, or Hong Kong.

The NYT lead has some good stuff–running rather low–on the politics of the budget problem. The story says that last week, congressional Republicans held a meeting that turned into a “gripe session” about President Bush’s passivity on the economy during his monthlong vacation. The NYT says the session included a polling presentation fraught with bad news for Republicans facing elections next year, including that voters ages 55-64 were defecting from GOP ranks in large numbers because of declines in the 401(k) plans they were counting on to finance their retirements. The WP fronts its fresh polling, which catches the same mood. The Post finds that most Americans hold President Bush responsible for the dwindling budget surplus.

The WSJ goes long with a report that for the first time, a mad cow case has been discovered in Japan, the first such case in all of Asia. Japanese officials downplayed the discovery, insisting the chances for a widespread outbreak are low. The Journal reminds that European officials once provided similar reassurances. Additionally, the paper observes that if the development hurts Japanese beef consumption (and similar bad news previously hurt EU beef consumption), it could have a direct impact on the U.S. and Australian beef industries, which export quite a bit to Japan.

The LAT fronts word from U.S. officials that a suicide bomber killed the Afghan guerrilla leading the opposition to the Taliban movement that controls most of Afghanistan. (His aides confirm the bombing but insist their boss survived.) Several unnamed U.S. officials tell the paper they suspect the involvement of Osama Bin Laden.

USAT uses its “Money” front for the results of its investigation into an interesting practice engaged in by several high-powered law firms: showering campaign donations on politicians with influence at large public pension funds, which, in turn, then hire the firms to file high-stakes lawsuits which have often yielded millions in legal fees. The politicians mentioned in the story include: a former Philadelphia mayor, the current New York State comptroller, and his New York City counterpart.

The LAT front reports that a national ad campaign for Mitsubishi has come under fire from advocates for the learning disabled because it says of the $14,000 car it’s promoting: “It must be dyslexic. It thinks it’s a $41,000 car.” The paper says that the managing partner of the advertising agency that created the campaign is dyslexic.