Surplusage

Surplusage

Surplusage

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
July 11 1999 4:36 AM

Surplusage

The Washington Post lead provides evidence that health care will emerge as a major issue in the coming campaign. Reports showing that drug prices are inflated enrage constituents. Both parties are fielding "Patients' Bill of Rights" to regulate managed-care plans. Democrats are confident that Americans trust them more on Medicare, and Republican polls show that health care is one of voters' top three concerns. The Los Angeles Times leads with a local story: California students are not taking advantage of federal financial aid because of ignorance and confusion about available assistance. The New York Times fronts an article on the unfolding budget war, reporting that House Republicans will propose a 10 percent across the board tax cut.

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All three front the bellwether World Cup victory of the US women's soccer team. After 120 minutes of scoreless play, the Americans took the title after winning a penalty kick contest by 5-4. The player who launched the winning goal expressed her exuberance by taking off her shirt in front of what is believed to be the largest crowd ever to watch a women's sporting event. While the NYT and the Post front pictures of Brandi Chastain cloaked in her teammates' embrace, the LAT takes the risqué route--featuring a photo of the solitary shirtless player in all her nearly bare-breasted glory.

The LAT front charges that surplus budgeting is dishonest and unreliable. The story says that the surplus is unlikely to materialize because it is a 15-year baseline projection, which assumes that the Congress will stay within unrealistic budget ceilings. The slant of the article might be partially due to its dependence on a Concord Coalition analysis. Though the article correctly portrays the group as nonpartisan, it fails to mention that the Concord Coalition consists of hard-core deficit hawks. In accusing the budgeteers of slippery arithmetic, the article makes some errors. For example: the story claims that much of the $5.9 trillion surplus, projected over the next 15 years, would disappear if Congress allows spending to grow with inflation. But the $5.9 trillion number comes from the White House, whose projections already assume that discretionary spending rises with inflation.

The NYT lead comprehensively lays out Republican battle plans on tax cuts. By trimming only the tax rate for the lowest bracket of taxpayers, the Senate proposal seeks to attract Democratic supporters. The House bill will cost $864 billion over 10 years. By reducing all income tax rates, this plan would confer the largest benefits on the wealthiest tax payers. Democrats charge that these cuts would jeopardize the government's ability to deal with the aging of the baby boom, take money away from pressing social needs, and lead to deficits. The Post forcefully editorializes against tax cut schemes and calls the GOP plans a political ploy designed to make Democrats squirm.

Four and a half million firearms are sold in unregulated "secondary markets," according to a front-page WP piece. The loophole for gun sales by unlicensed dealers explains how Benjamin Smith, the racist who went on a shooting rampage last weekend, armed himself after failing a federal background check.

Rewriting a page from John Hersey's A Bell for Adano, the Post fronts a narrative piece on how American soldiers are shouldering their responsibilities as the only legitimate authority in some Kosovar towns. It will be about six months until the UN erects an interim civil administration. Meanwhile, soldiers patrol the skies and try to police outbreaks of arson. Army Capt. Matt McFarlane, called "the mayor" of the town he governs, listens to citizens' gripes from his office in the old town hall and tries to iron out differences. Kosovars showed their appreciation for their American superintendents by providing baked goods for a Fourth of July celebration.

Inner-city gangs are increasingly profiting from prostitution by turning the growing number of female gang members to commercial use, according to the NYT. Arrest records suggest that this trend is trapping more young girls into trading sex for dollars.

The NYT's "Week in Review" reports that Japan's predominantly middle-class prostitutes maintain respectability with the help of an ingenuous industry. Businesses called "alibi-ya" assist the women who staff Japan's sex service sector in feigning respectability. These companies provide alibis: phony references, pay stubs, phone answering services, and even bosses to appear at the weddings of purported employees.