Today's Papers

Chase to the Cut

Everybody leads with President Bush’s formal unveiling of his proposed tax cuts, which total an estimated $670 billion over 10 years. About half of that will come from the proposed elimination of the dividend tax. The overall plan, as everybody has been pointing out, is about twice as big as the White House hinted at last week.

The Los Angeles Times lead portrays the cuts as a stimulus package, “BUSH OFFERS TAX CUTS TO SPUR GROWTH.” The Washington Post stays away from that line and says up high, “The White House opted to spend relatively little—about 15 percent of the total—to stimulate the economy in the short term.”

The New York Times and LAT both have pieces inside detailing one of the plan’s surprises: It doesn’t include direct aid to states. Various Democratic and Republican state officials said they were bummed about that. Just last week the White House had suggested it would support a “huge” (LAT’s word) aid package to the states. Meanwhile, the papers add that the proposed cuts will also probably result in states losing revenue since many of them peg their tax code to federal codes (although presumably state legislatures can change that).

The LAT’s Ron Brownstein says the cuts essentially commit the administration to limiting discretionary non-defense domestic programs for years to come. (Monday’s WP  said  this year’s budget freezes funding for a lot of those programs.)

Everybody mentions that some centrist Democrats, who were key supporters of Bush’s 2001 tax cut, suggested they weren’t into this one.

The Wall Street Journal puts the big cuts in context, suggesting that the administration decided to go for them at least partially in order to have a lot of chits to play with during the coming bargaining. “This is not the bill that’s going to pass Congress, and everybody knows it,” one lobbyist told the Post.

While the other papers’ editorial pages continue to cut apart the cuts, the Journal’s editorial page loves ‘em: “A bull’s-eye, for sure.”

Everybody goes high with word that the administration now says it’s willing to negotiate or, more exactly, “talk” with North Korea. According to a joint statement put out by the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, “The United States is willing to talk to North Korea about how it will meet its obligations to the international community.” However, “the United States will not provide quid pro quos to North Korea to live up to its existing obligations.” The administration’s willingness to do some sort of deal has actually been apparent for a couple of days. But, probably since White House spokesmen were saying otherwise, the papers  didn’t come right out and say it. (The one exception was USA Today, but even they ran it inside.)

The Journal says up high that the general strike in Venezuela seems to be losing steam. But the one place it’s still going strong is in the oil industry, Venezuela’s cash cow.

The WP fronts the president’s re-nomination of 30 federal judge candidates who were rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate last year. Among them is Charles Pickering, who has been heavily criticized for his record on civil rights.

Everybody notes Sen. Tom Daschle’s surprise announcement that he won’t be running for the presidency in 2004. The papers all mention that a number of Democratic senators pushed him to stay in the Senate, where, they said, they needed his fighting skills. The Journal adds that Daschle’s advisers decided he’ll have a better chance in ‘08.

USAT fronts a  scary and confusing report that flu deaths may be spiking: According to a  CDC report  highlighted by the paper, the influenza killed about 36,000 per year in the 1990s, about 10,000 more per year than previously estimated. A story in the NYT  explains: The previous estimates are dated, and Americans are getting older.

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