The Congress: It Takes Only One Cook To Spoil The Batter
The sweetest morsels in big tax bills, like the ones passed by the House and Senate last week, are often scarcely noticed. In the House bill, for example, "bakery drivers" was deleted from the list of occupations to be treated as employees. Instead, they're to be independent contractors, which means bakeries no longer need to pay Social Security, Medicare or unemployment taxes for the guys who deliver croissants and Twinkies. Why distinguish between them and haulers of veggies or dry cleaning, for that matter?
Part of the reason could be that an ardent supporter of the change, Nebraska Republican JON CHRISTENSEN, is a chef who knows how to mix the dough of legislation. His Omaha district is home to a Metz bakery, a Pepperidge Farm depot and several facilities belonging to the country's largest baking firm, Interstate Bakeries Corp., maker of Wonder bread. Federal records show Interstate CEO Charles A. Sullivan and his wife contributed $3,000 to Christensen in 1996. The American Bakers Association, which gave $46,700 to House Republicans and $1,000 to Christensen in 1995-96, calls the new rule's enactment by the Committee on Ways and Means an "immaculate conception." Now that's real, old-fashioned baking.
--By Chandrani Ghosh
For Albright, The Past Is Another Country
After the NATO summit in Spain next week, Secretary of State MADELEINE ALBRIGHT will travel to Eastern Europe to assuage the hard feelings of countries not on the list for immediate admission and to congratulate those who are, like her homeland, the Czech Republic. Though State Department officials say her visit to Prague will deal with NATO matters only, Albright will inevitably have to address her recently revealed Jewish heritage. Aides say she might consider a pilgrimage to the Pinkas Synagogue, where the names of 80,000 Holocaust victims are inscribed on the walls. Among them are five members of Albright's family, including her grandfather and grandmother.
--By Ann Blackman
However Briefly May It Wave: Flag Office Of The Capitol
When the government says it's going to run something up the flagpole, it's not kidding. For a small charge, you can become the proud owner of a U.S. flag that has flown over the Capitol, along with an appropriate certificate, by sending a request to your favorite Senator or Representative. Best bargain: a 3-ft. by 5-ft. nylon version for $10.04, which includes a $3.30 flying fee but not shipping and handling. The request is forwarded by your Congressman to the Flag Office of the Capitol, where an average of 350 such specially sought Star-Spangled Banners are prepared for hoisting every day. The flags are run up for less than a minute each by Capitol Architect workers on three special poles on the House side roof (out of photo-op range), typically between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. Since the program began in 1937, some 2.4 million banners have fluttered at the behest of citizens. The biggest flag-flying day? July 4, of course, when more than 2,000 flags can be expected to wave on request. The one-day record was set on July 4, 1976, the U.S. Bicentennial, when 10,471 flags went up and down on seven poles from midnight to midnight (that's more than seven flags a minute).
--By Alain L. Sanders
AVERAGE NUMBER OF FLAGS RAISED PER DAY: 350
Number of flags raised in 1937-38: 12
TOTAL NUMBER OF FLAGS RAISED AS OF MAY 31, 1997: 2,424,879
FISCAL 1997 FLAG OFFICE BUDGET: $304,000
MOST EXPENSIVE FLAG, 8-FT. BY 12-FT. COTTON: $70.30*
*Includes $3.30 flying fee (shipping and handling extra)
WINNERS & LOSERS
The Supremes Rule
BILL CLINTON Court allows line-item veto. Now we'll see if Trent Lott gets ship-building dough for his district
ONLINE SEX GEEKS Free speech lives on the World Wide Web. Constitution apparently protects #!$&.com
JOHN C. CALHOUN His spirit marches on with court's votes for states' rights
HILLARY CLINTON What privilege? Court passes on attorney-client confidentiality, and now she has to cough up notes
SEXUAL PREDATORS Forget the 14th Amendment. "Mentally abnormal"? Lock 'em up and throw away the key
THOMAS JEFFERSON Court blurs his cherished line between church and state
LOST IN CYBERSPACE? Forty-two government agencies shelled out about $349 million to maintain 4,515 Websites and bulletin boards for fiscal years 1994-96. The biggest spenders (in millions of dollars):
Source: General Accounting Office
"I had a real life before I moved to Washington. And I expect to have a real life when I leave." Bill Clinton, speaking at a San Francisco fund raiser for California Senator Barbara Boxer
"First Amendment issues are always unpopular. That's why we need a First Amendment." Floyd Abrams, free-speech lawyer, on the debate over flag burning and other First Amendment questions
By Kathleen Adams, Janice M. Horowitz, Nadya Labi, Lina Lofaro, Emily Mitchell, Megan Rutherford And Gabriel Snyder
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