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News Briefs I

Republicans May Abandon Tax Cut

The Washington Post

Less than a month after vowing a confrontation with President Clinton over the issue, House Republican leaders Monday signaled they will likely have to abandon their 10 percent across-the-board tax cut proposal because of stiff opposition within their own ranks.

The leadership faces strong resistance from a coalition of about 15 GOP moderates and conservatives who argue that the plan is too costly and politically risky. GOP leaders said they will consider more modest tax relief, including a plan that would scale back the "marriage penalty" paid by many two-income couples and provide other targeted tax relief more in line with Clinton's approach.

House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey, R-Texas, told reporters that while he still considers the across-the-board tax cut to be the overall best idea, "It's clearly not the only idea," adding: "We've got a large number of Republicans with a large number of different ideas about how to best cut taxes."

Legislators Increasingly Support Voting Rights for Felons

The Washington Post

Alarmed by the staggering number of people who are barred from voting because of past criminal convictions, legislators in an increasing number of states are advocating proposals to allow felons to return to the voting booth.

The issue, long touted by prisoner rights advocates, is finding support among mainstream civil rights organizations and political leaders. They argue that the crazy quilt of state laws barring felons from voting not only constitutes unfair punishment but also has the potential to shut entire communities out of the political process because such a large proportion of their citizens cannot vote.

That is especially true for African-American men, 13 percent of whom are ineligible to vote because of criminal convictions, according to a recent study conducted jointly by the Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch, both well-known research organizations. In 10 states, more than one in five black men are barred from voting because of their criminal records.

AOL Abandons Marketing Plan in Effort to Reduce "Spam"

The Washington Post
Dulles, Va.

Don't expect to be attending a Tupperware-type party for AOL any time soon.

Fearing it could set off an embarrassing flood of "spam," or electronic junk mail, America Online Inc. has canceled a plan to recruit ordinary people to market its online service and other technology products, according to sources close to the company.

The AOL Select program, which had been slated to begin this month, was to be much like those popularized by Amway Corp., Mary Kay Inc. or Excel Communications Inc. These companies hire neighborhood people as "network marketers," paying them commissions in a pyramid system for their sales and for the sales of other people they enlist.

Selling the service this way "seemed to make sense," said a source close to the program. " AOL is very word-of-mouth."

But, after contracting with marketing company Monument Communications Inc. of McLean, Va. to help create AOL Select and signing on 60 or so people as agents, AOL decided to scrap the plan. "There was the potential of this to become a problem with spam," said a source close to the deal, referring to unsolicited mail that the agents might send to others to pitch the service. AOL has declared itself against spam.