NYT reported Republican leaders in Congress and some White House officials see opportunities in Hurricane Katrina to advance longstanding conservative goals like giving students vouchers to pay for private schools, paying churches to help with temporary housing and scaling back business regulation. "There are about a thousand churches right here in Houston, and a lot of them are helping people with housing, but FEMA says they can't reimburse faith-based organizations," Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Why should the churches not be reimbursed. They already exist, so it would not be establishing any religion.Mr. DeLay, who joined three of President Bush's top economic advisers on a tour of relief efforts near the Houston Astrodome, added that Congress should also allow students displaced by the hurricane to use vouchers to pay for tuition at private schools. Conservatives have championed school vouchers for decades.
They are still good ideas, and would the Dems want to stand in the way of seeing minority children get a good education?Those are only some of the ideas being considered by Congressional leaders and White House officials that could serve the dual purpose of helping hurricane victims and pursuing broader social and economic changes that Republicans have long sought.... But other changes are more ideological and more controversial. On Thursday, Mr. Bush issued an order that exempts federal contractors working on disaster relief projects from a longstanding federal requirement that they pay workers "prevailing wages," which are usually pegged to union pay rates. The exemption strikes at the heart of a requirement that labor unions and Democratic lawmakers have ferociously defended for years.
But do they really want to stand in the way of evacuees getting jobs?.... But beyond the immediate needs, Republican lawmakers and administration officials are contemplating tax cuts intended to draw companies and workers back to New Orleans, regulatory changes to speed the expansion of oil refineries and scores of smaller changes to improve the recovery.
Maybe they will even be smart enough to use the extremely high gas prices to push for new refineries.Mr. Snow and other administration officials were noncommittal on Friday toward some of the ideas now circulating in Congress, like offering major tax breaks to companies that set up operations in damaged areas.