The Los Angeles Times leads with the GOP-led House's latest foray into tax repeal: the passage of a roll-back of a 1993 tax on the Social Security benefits received by senior singles making at least $34,000 in annual income and by senior couples making at least $44,000. Democrats complain that the measure favors the better off and threatens the financial footing of Medicare, which is funded by the tax on SS benefits. President Clinton's reaction: He'll veto it--a meaningful threat, since the vote fell short of the two-thirds majority required for an override. The vote also tops the Wall Street Journal front-page world-wide news index. USA Today goes with a new poll showing George W. Bush heading into the Republican convention with an 11-percentage-point lead over Al Gore, which the paper attributes to Bush's selection of Dick Cheney. But, the paper reminds, one-fourth of those sampled say they could still change their minds. The top non-local story at the Washington Post, which fronts the House's tax retreat, is the Republican Party's issuance of the draft party platform, which is, as was widely anticipated, less strident than its 1996 predecessor. This is also the lead at the New York Times and is fronted by the LAT.
The platform stories note the signal differences between the current draft and the 1996 platform: No longer does the call go out for the elimination of the Department of Education or the National Endowment for the Arts, or for strict levels of legal immigration, or the establishment of English as the nation's official language. But the papers still note strong remaining outcroppings of orthodoxy, most notably the abortion position, which ignores exceptions in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is at stake and calls for the appointment of anti-abortion judges, a position stricter than Bush's own. One oddity none of the papers notice: According to these stories, the draft does not mention welfare reform, even though its production was supervised by Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, the nation's most aggressive elected welfare reformer.
The NYT features an op-ed by veteran tax reformer Robert S. McIntyre that makes quick hash of Dick Cheney's explanation that he voted against Head Start because he was "motivated by a concern for fiscal responsibility in an era when the nation did not have the projected surpluses it now has." McIntyre observes that in the '80s, Head Start cost about $1 billion a year, compared to about $174 billion a year for the 1981 Ronald Reagan tax cut Cheney cheerfully voted for. The piece also notes that Cheney never questioned increasing the defense budget from its 1980 level of $134 billion up to its 1986 level of $273 billion.
Story idea: How about a list of and follow-up interviews with all the other goofballs besides Cheney who voted against the resolution to free Mandela?
USAT runs a front-page interview with George W. Bush in which he says: "[P]eople are going to hear at the convention about how proud I am to be George Bush's son." But Bush emphasizes that even though he conferred with his father about the choice of Dick Cheney, it was he, George W., who called the shots. Bush also says that the upcoming convention, which will feature speeches by Colin Powell, John McCain, and Condoleezza Rice, will be a "preview" of his Cabinet. And he says he's not concerned about Republicans' reaction to Dick Cheney's openly gay daughter. Which, he adds, he doesn't think is anybody's business.
The WSJ "Washington Wire" says the comedy troupe Gross National Product has Dick Cheney explaining his Head Start and similar votes this way: "Because of my medical condition, I try to use my heart as little as possible."