Balance Sheet



Backdraft. Part of Bill Clinton's tax increase could disappear. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit prohibits retroactive tax hikes when taxpayers don't receive "actual or constructive notice" of the retroactive change. A Supreme Court review of the decision may go further. In an amicus brief, the Washington Legal Foundation asks the Court to nullify any retroactive tax–including provisions in Clinton's 1993 bill–applied to such "completed transactions" as estates or gifts.

Nothing but Net. New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman sacks subsidized sports. She nixes a deal to move the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers to Camden; a new arena would cost taxpayers $100 million. And she plans to save $17 million a year in subsidies by selling the Meadowlands complex, home of the NFL's Giants and Jets, the NBA's Nets, and the NHL's Devils. A possible buyer, reports Forbes, is Devils owner John McMullen.

Independent Clause. Maryland and Virginia Democrats join the welfare-reform brigade. (See "Working on Welfare," Apr.) Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer wants to cut off benefits for recipients who are unemployed after 18 months on the dole; Virginia's legislature passes a bill that cuts people off after 12 months. Both state plans would restrict benefits for women who have additional children.

Screen Play. Under pressure from Japan Inc., Japan's communications ministry says it won't abandon its government-subsidized analog high-definition television technology. (See "The Big Picture," Aug./Sept.) Don't believe it. Digital HDTV, developed by unfettered U.S. entrepreneurs, has slam-dunked the market, leaving the subsidized system almost scoreless.


Smoke Screen. The courts snuff medical marijuana. Despite a ruling by the Drug Enforcement Administration's chief administrative law judge that marijuana should be reclassified for therapeutic purposes, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit lets the DEA continue to prohibit medicinal pot.

Industrial Policy Labs. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who chairs the subcommittee that funds the National Science Foundation, sounds a death knell for non-pork-barrel research funding. Mikulski, reports Science, says the NSF should stop imitating a university, with departments of biology, mathematics, and earth sciences. Instead, she says, it should finance "strategic research" and establish "institutes on manufacturing, global change, [and] high-performance computing."

Landed Gentry. Stakeholder representation finds a home on the range. (See "Animal Farm, Circa 1994," Mar.) Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt will form "regional advisory councils," with designated slots for greens, bureaucrats, and sympathetic ranchers, to rubber-stamp his Western land-use plans. The New York Times says Babbitt will create the councils by administrative decree, placing them outside congressional control.

Border Barrier. Unions demand vengeance for NAFTA. Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) tells the AFL-CIO he will sponsor his own version of Ross Perot's "social tariff'–a bill that would tax or restrict imports from any country with lower wages or looser environmental regulations. And former Gephardt aide George Stephanopoulos says the White House wants to add a "workers' rights" pact to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.