Balance Sheet

Assets

Bomb Threat. Olympic bomb hysteria proves insufficient to give federal law enforcers new "anti- terrorist" powers. The August congressional recess--along with conservatives and civil libertarians--slows the Clinton administration's plan to let the feds use wiretaps on multiple phones and tap telephones for as long as 48 hours before getting a court order. Sen. Conrad Burns (R- Mont.) says Congress "has done enough" to combat terrorism this year.

Choice Chance. An Ohio court allows vouchers to move forward in Cleveland. Judge Lisa Sadler upholds a plan that will make 1,500 public kindergarten through third grade students eligible for $2,250 worth of tuition vouchers to attend religious or secular private schools this fall.

Desert Oasis? New Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu places privatization at the top of his domestic agenda. "I'm committed to privatize just about all of the government firms and many of the government services," he tells a group of Wall Street investors. "I'd like you to come to Israel because I think you'll make a lot of money in Israel."

Trade Tracks. Watch out, Mickey Kantor: Japan may no longer let you bludgeon it (and U.S. consumers) during bilateral trade negotiations. Disputes over supercomputers and film will no longer be decided in acrimonious "summits." Japan will instead appeal directly to the World Trade Organization, which looks askance at bilateral deals. Huffs trade hawk Clyde Prestowitz of the Economic Strategy Institute, this new policy "lessens our ability to put pressure on Japan."

Liabilities

Federalist Offense. Republicans promise to elevate President Clinton's veto of the ban on partial- birth abortions as a major campaign issue. Most late-term abortions may indeed be infanticide. But why make killing children a federal crime? Whatever happened to the GOP's love affair with the 10th Amendment?

Pay Snub. ACORN, the tax-subsidized anti-poverty advocacy group, is lobbying a dozen cities and states, demanding a hike in the minimum wage--unless you work for ACORN. The group sues California, asking to have its employees exempted from a minimum-wage increase that's on a November ballot initiative. "[T]he more that ACORN must pay each individual outreach worker," argues the group's legal brief, "the fewer outreach workers it will be able to hire." Duh.

Chemical Breakdown. And you thought proposals to trace terrorists by "tagging" explosive materials were goofy. In mid-September the Senate will vote on the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty that would force any business that makes components that could be used in chemical weapons to file tons of paperwork and allow routine on-site inspections. Investor's Business Daily reports that as many as 10,000 firms, from biotech and pharmaceutical plants to breweries, may be covered by the law.

Wrong TEAM. Groveling before organized labor, Bill Clinton vetoes the Teamwork for Employment and Management (TEAM) act, a bill that would have swept aside 60-year-old labor regulations governing non-union companies. The TEAM bill would have let managers and employees jointly resolve conflicts over scheduling, health, and safety without involving the National Labor Relations Board. "President Clinton's message to small business is, 'Get to the back of the line,'" says Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), chairman of the Committee on Small Business. "What labor wants, labor gets."

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