Videosyncracies

Videosyncracies

Videosyncracies

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Oct. 20 1997 6:33 AM

Videosyncracies

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leads with Jimmy Carter going public with his thoughts on the Clinton fund-raising brouhaha. The New York Times lead is that the top Republican tax writer in the House will introduce legislation to radically alter IRS audit and dispute resolution procedures. The Los Angeles Times leads with state and local attempts at campaign reform. The Washington Post goes with Israel's decision to permit the extradition of a 17-year-old back to Maryland to stand trial for a gruesome murder, despite his claim that he's an Israeli citizen. This was a local story that became a national one when Israel's earlier pronouncement that he could not be extradited had appeared to threaten U.S.-Israeli relations.

On a Sunday CNN broadcast, Carter said that the investigation of Clinton's fund-raising should be turned over to an independent counsel. According to USAT, Carter said the scandal has enforced the "not always erroneous" impression that getting help from Washington requires paying a "legal bribe." The paper also reports that Rep. Dan Burton said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he thinks some of the fund-raising videotapes may have been "altered in some way," that Sen. Arlen Specter said on Fox News Sunday that video of Clinton describing how DNC ads were helping him "is proof that he was evading the law," and that according to the Newsweek coming out today, at least one fat cat, Richard Jenrette, has come forward to say Bill Clinton called him up from the White House to ask for money. The WP has both the Burton and Jenrette stories, but runs them inside.

The NYT lead explains that Rep. Bill Archer, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is seizing on the recent uproar over IRS misbehavior to put forward a legislative evergreen suddenly considered to have a good shot at passage: a plan to shift the burden of proof in tax disputes from the taxpayer to the IRS. The move is being strongly opposed by the Clinton administration and many tax experts on the ground that adopting it would clog the system, risk a decrease in tax revenues, and force the IRS to become even more aggressive. The paper points out that the number of people likely to be affected by the change would be quite small--there are only 2 million audits annually and only about 1,500 of them end up in court.

Although the line-item veto had been the darling of several Republican presidents, the Wall Street Journal, after surveying Clinton's targeted cuts last week of federal subsidies to such corporations as Westinghouse and 3M, complains today that the administration's line-item decision process "can appear often arbitrary and highly vulnerable to politics." The paper says the new presidential tool creates "post-season budget playoffs."

A USAT front-page story reports that Honda has developed a virtually pollution-free gasoline engine that will be as powerful as conventional ones, and yet not more expensive.

The WP reports on its front page that a high-priority, classified alert issued by the CIA last August saying that Russia had probably conducted a nuclear test on an island near the Artic Circle--an alert that resulted in the formal bawling out of the Russian ambassador to the U.S.--was, in all likelihood, a mistake. What the CIA detected, it turns out, was an earthquake.

Despite such laws as the new federal anti-stalker statute, the NYT reports that New York State inmates are able to get home addresses of parties connected to crimes they were convicted of, as well as crime scene photos of victims via the state Freedom of Information Act. Civil liberties groups, says the paper, vow to fight any reduction in a prisoner's right to file FOIA requests.

Back to the NYT story on restraining the IRS: There's exactly one example given of the kinds of cases the revision would apply to, and it speaks volumes about the sort of people Republican tax reformers and/or Times reporters and editors most naturally think of: "...cases where the taxpayer and the IRS presented conflicting but equally credible evidence--for example, the value of a painting given to a museum..."