Today's Papers


The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and USA Today all lead with word that the Medicare bill made it past attempted Democratic blocks in the Senate and is all but certain of winning final passage today. The Los Angeles Times fronts Medicare andleads with California’s Senate voting to repeal a law that would have allowed illegal immigrants to get drivers’ licenses.

The massive Medicare overhaul provides limited drug coverage and also includes plans for: making generic drugs more readily available; making seniors who earn more than $80,000 pay more for doctors visits; competition with private plans in six cities (“largely window dressing,” one analyst told the NYT). It would also ban the feds from using its purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices.

In a bit the Post flags, the final bill will offer extra help for fewer low-income seniors than Democrats envisioned since “the GOP insisted on considering people’s assets in determining who would qualify.” Low-income people who have more than $6,000 in assets won’t be eligible for the deals. According to a PBS NewsHour report, those “assets” don’t include homes but do include “personal effects.”

A WP editorial reminds that the oft-cited $400 billion figure for the 10-year cost of the Medicare bill probably seriously underestimates the long-term cost, as TP mentioned yesterday. “Many lean on the estimate,” tsk tsks the editorial. Those leaners include Post news writers, who describe the bill as a “$400 billion revision of Medicare.” Most of the other papers also only cite the official, misleading, number. The NYT is the exception.

The Post’seditorial wonders, “Over the next few weeks and months, Congress and the president ought to devote some time to explaining just how they expect the nation to do it. We’d like to hear what taxes will be raised, or which other programs Congress will cut to pay for Medicare.”

Everybody says inside that the Senate has given up for now trying to pass the energy bill, widely criticized for its porkiness. GOP leaders said they’ll try again in January.

The papers all note inside that the military “retracted” its earlier report (NYT) or disputed media reports (USAT and LAT) that the two GIs killed Sunday in Mosul had been stabbed and mutilated by teenagers. The military said there were no signs the soldiers had been beaten or stabbed, and the papers now all seem to concur. USAT, meanwhile, had gone on Page One with the original claims: “IRAQI MOB MUTILATES 2 U.S. SOLDIERS IN MOSUL.” It runs today’s corrective on A10.

The NYT brieflymentions that American MPs killed three Iraqis and wounded eight while responding to a riot at a prison near Baghdad. Obvious question: Why were they rioting?

The WP notes inside that the Iraqi Governing Council barred an Arabic satellite news network from broadcasting from Iraq after the network, al-Arabiya, aired a tape of Saddam urging attacks against Iraqis working with occupation forces. The Post says that Iraq administrator Paul Bremer “approved and authorized” the move.

The NYT John Burns says the military in Iraq is trying to figure out how looters made off with a few radioactive capsulesafter GIs had started guarding the battlefield testing ground where the capsules were originally found. The military has found two people in the area suffering from radiation sickness. Burns says “some defense officials” told him the incident “showed the Bush administration’s error in sending too few troops to Iraq.”

Saddam had apparently used the capsules to simulate postnuke-strike conditions. Burns says he came across documents recording some kind of “tests on humans,” perhaps, he says, for exposure to radiation or chemicals. Burns writes that he found “dust-covered strips of film showing the naked upper bodies and heads of men who appeared to have been alive when the films were made.”

The Post says on Page One that European countries and the U.S. agreed on a compromise U.N. nuclear agency resolution that strongly frets about (“deplores”) Iran’s efforts to hide its nuclear activity. The agreed upon resolution says that if any additional hoodwinking is discovered, the issue will be “fast-tracked” to the Security Council, where Iran could face sanctions.

The Post has multiple quotes from unnamed administration officials saying they’re thrilled with the compromise deal. But the resolution seems similar to a European-sponsored plan that an editorial in yesterday’s WP complained was sissy. The NYT, meanwhile, headlines: “U.S. ACQUIESCES TO ALLIES ON NEW IRAN NUCLEAR RESOLUTION.” As the Times explains, at least some in the White House had been hoping to get a formal censure of Iran.

Everybody notes the death of Warren Spahn, perhaps the best lefty pitcher in baseball history. He was 82.