Today's Papers

Budget Tricks Are for Kids

The New York Times leads with the Senate’s approval of an increased tax credit for low-income families of $400 per child. The move, which would affect 6.5 million families (or 8 to 12 million, according to the Washington Post), must now pass through a suspicious House. USA Today reefers the story, and the Post and the Los Angeles Times stuff it. USA Today leads with the news that U.S. forces will be shifted 75 miles south from the border with North Korea, where they will be safer from the North’s massive arsenal. Troops will also move out of Seoul, where their presence has been a flashpoint for anti-American protests. The Post puts the story under the fold, the LAT goes for the reefer, and the NYT off-off-leads it in columns 4 and 5. The Post leads with a freshly leaked EPA report detailing the agency’s failure to prosecute known pollution offenders, which at any given time include a quarter of the nation’s biggest industrial plants and water treatment centers. The LAT leads with Attorney General John Ashcroft’s efforts to woo Congress into giving him further powers to fight terrorism. The NYT gives him an off-off-lead, the Post keeps it inside, and USAT and the Wall Street Journal reefer it. The WSJ leads with Bush’s speech to U.S. troops in Qatar his subsequent overflight of Iraq. The reefer points out that the greatly anticipated weapons of mass destruction are still missing. 

Everyone hedges their bets on the Senate’s surprising 94-2 decision to reinstate larger child tax credits for America’s poorest families. All are quick to mention that Republicans used the opportunity to extend the same credits to wealthier Americans, particularly those who make between $110,000 and $150,000 a year. The measure would cost $10 billion over the next 10 years, but the Senate agreement offset the cost by increasing customs taxes, a move likely to irk House Republicans. The Times calls the prospects of the tax credit “uncertain” in the House and hints that the White House will push for it. The WSJ follows up on that angle with a quote from Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, saying that “the White House has been involved in urging people to move along.” The Post is also “far from certain” and predicts the House will try to make the measure permanent (instead of petering out by 2011), which could increase its cost to $90 billion or more. USA Today points out that the new deal must reach the president’s desk by June 23 for low-income families to see the checks this year.

USA Today’s lead on the U.S. military’s pullback from the North Korean border includes the chilling thought that the move would make American troops “less vulnerable to a counterattack if the United States launched pre-emptive strikes at North Korea’s nuclear facilities.” The NYT somewhat downplays the implications of the move, headlining the piece “G.I.’s Will Gradually Leave Korea DMZ to Cut War Risk,” and suggests the shift is a strategic upgrade to the Cold War era ring-them-with-bunkers plan that would “actually increase deterrence” by threatening a more effective attack. The Post says South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun “urged the U.S. to delay the move,” while the NYT reports “those fears were eased” when the Americans explained they would still be nearby.

The New York Times,Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times front the surprise resignation of the NYT’s two most senior editors, Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd. “The morale of the newsroom is critical,” publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. explained to a packed newsroom yesterday morning. Raines’ departure was met with unexpected tears and applause as he gave his parting words: “When a great story breaks out, go like hell.” The NYT glosses over the suddenness of its boss’s removal, while the Post mentions meetings Raines had scheduled meetings with staffers for next week. The WSJ and Post provide the best coverage and inside views from Times reporters. Everyone argues that Raines’ downfall had as much to do with his authoritarian leadership and friendless ambition as it did with the Jayson Blair scandal.

The Middle East peace process took a smaller role in the news today, with the NYT reporting on Yasser Arafat’s dismissal of Sharon’s promise to remove some “unauthorized outposts.” The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post focused on the settlers, who unsurprisingly intend to stay put.

Everyone covered John Ashcroft’s plea to Congress for more power to fight terrorists in the U.S., saying the ability to “prevent another catastrophic attack on American soil would be more difficult, if not impossible, without the Patriot Act.” Congressmen peppered Ashcroft with some biting questions during his first hearing before the House Judiciary Committee since 9/11 as he laced his “sometimes emotional testimony” with stories of terror victims and the war in Iraq.

In another battle against the deceptive forces of evil, a USA Today editorial quotes Phyllis Davis on how the Times’ hard times are part of the ongoing Enron-esque “ethical breakdown in American business.” Davis says “[w]e’re … feeding on our own flesh. Sammy Sosa’s bat having cork—I broke down and cried.”