NY Times claimed Bush is addressing "kitchen table issues," but ignored Bush's objections to Congress' "kitchen table" efforts

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

A New York Times article asserted that President Bush "is shifting his agenda to what aides call 'kitchen table issues' -- small ideas that affect ordinary people's lives and do not take an act of Congress to put in place," citing as examples the mortgage crisis and toy safety concerns. But the Times did not note that the Bush administration has in fact opposed attempted "acts of Congress" in the form of legislation by Democrats targeting those issues.

A November 24 New York Times article by reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg asserted that President Bush "is shifting his agenda to what aides call 'kitchen table issues' -- small ideas that affect ordinary people's lives and do not take an act of Congress to put in place." But while the Times cited the mortgage crisis and toy safety concerns as among the issues Bush plans to address, Stolberg did not note that the Bush administration has opposed Congress' recent efforts to help homeowners and strengthen product safety regulations.

From the Times article, headlined "In Bush's Last Year, Modest Domestic Aims":

As President Bush looks toward his final year in office, with Democrats controlling Congress and his major domestic initiatives dead on Capitol Hill, he is shifting his agenda to what aides call "kitchen table issues" -- small ideas that affect ordinary people's lives and do not take an act of Congress to put in place.


He traveled to the shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland to announce federal protection for two coveted species of game fish, the striped bass and the red drum. He appeared in the Rose Garden to call on lenders to help struggling homeowners refinance. He came out in favor of giving the Food and Drug Administration new authority to recall unsafe foods.

Just this weekend, thanks to an executive order by Mr. Bush, the military is opening up additional air space -- the White House calls it a "Thanksgiving express lane" -- to lessen congestion in the skies. And Mr. Bush's aides say more announcements are in the works, including another initiative, likely to be announced soon, intended to ease the mortgage lending crisis.


Mr. Bush's aides are calculating that the public, numbed by what Mr. [Joel] Kaplan [deputy White House chief of staff] called "esoteric budget battles" and other Washington conflicts, will respond to issues like long airline delays or tainted toys from China.

But while the article went on to note that Bush's actions on the issues of commercial fishing and air traffic congestion "have had little practical effect," the Times did not note the White House's opposition to congressional initiatives aimed at addressing two of the other "kitchen table" issues mentioned in the article -- the mortgage crisis and the concerns surrounding toy safety.

Indeed, Bush objected to a bill that passed the House, which also targeted the mortgage problem. According to a House Financial Services Committee press release, the bill would, among other provisions, "call for licensing and registration of mortgage originators, including brokers and bank loan officers" and "set a minimum standard for all mortgages which states that borrowers must have a reasonable ability to repay." Bush also threatened to veto a Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill that, as the Associated Press noted, "included $250 million for counseling to help homeowners threatened with foreclosure in the housing crisis."

On the issue of toy safety, Consumer Product Safety Commission chairwoman Nancy Nord, a Bush appointee, recently "asked Congress to reject legislation intended to strengthen the agency, which polices thousands of consumer goods, from toys to tools," as the Times itself reported on October 29:

On the eve of an important Senate committee meeting to consider the legislation, Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has asked lawmakers in two letters not to approve the bulk of legislation that would increase the agency's authority, double its budget and sharply increase its dwindling staff.

Ms. Nord opposes provisions that would increase the maximum penalties for safety violations and make it easier for the government to make public reports of faulty products, protect industry whistle-blowers and prosecute executives of companies that willfully violate laws.

CBS News reported that the White House "also opposes the legislation, citing the same reasons as Nord."

By contrast with these congressional initiatives, Stolberg did not report any Bush administration remedies regarding toy safety and reported with respect to the mortgage foreclosure problem only that an initiative is "likely to be announced soon," citing Bush aides.

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The New York Times
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