News In Brief

President Bush, after outlining his budget to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, kept his campaign for approval going on several fronts. He set off on a two-day trip into the nation's midsection to sell his plan for a $1.6 trillion tax cut. Aides said Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, and Georgia were chosen to bolster support from key Republicans in Congress while putting pressure on opposition Democrats. At the same time, Bush formally released a 207-page budget blueprint. In addition to the tax cut, the $1.96 trillion plan aims to hold discretionary spending growth to 4 percent and calls for paying $2 trillion of the national debt by 2011. Democratic leaders criticized the blueprint, saying its math was flawed.

The sharp slowdown that began in the second half of last year "has yet to run its full course," Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told the House Financial Services Committee. His remarks, which included revisions from congressional testimony he delivered two weeks ago, sent the clearest signal yet that the central bank is ready to do more to prevent the economy from continuing to skid.

The Commerce Department delivered more unfavorable economic news: The US economy grew at at an annual rate of only 1.1 percent in the final three months of 2000 - the weakest performance in more than five years. The reading was lower than an initial estimate, which had gross domestic product rising 1.4 percent.

States cannot label congressional candidates as opponents of term limits on election ballots, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously. The justices said the requirement, which was contested in Missouri, puts candidates at a disadvantage and "attempts to dictate electoral outcomes." The requirement, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court, falls outside the constitutional power states have to regulate elections. The case follows up the Supreme Court's 1995 decision barring states from imposing term limits on members of Congress.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the justices struck down a restriction imposed by Congress that barred federally funded lawyers from filing lawsuits on behalf of poor people challenging welfare laws. The restriction on attorneys with the Legal Services Corp. (LSC) violates First Amendment rights, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. The congressionally established LSC administers federal grants to hundreds of local groups that provide free legal assistance to as many as 2 million clients each year.

A decision in Microsoft's appeal of the antitrust case against it was not expected for several months, following two days of oral arguments in Washington. Seven judges hearing the case criticized Thomas Penfield Jackson, the trial judge who ordered the software giant to be split in two, expressing concerns about technical aspects of his ruling. One judge raised the possibility the case would be returned to trial court, and analysts said a breakup now appeared less likely.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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