The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 3, 2008

Setting the Record Straight: The New York Times Mistakes Its Own Blindness for Presidential "Invisibility"
Apologist For Democrat-Led Congress’ Inaction, Paper Criticizes President Bush For Public Unawareness Of Housing Event Old “Gray Lady” Forgot She Failed To Cover

Today, the New York Times criticized President Bush for failing to generate headlines for his visit to Novadebt counseling center in Freehold, N.J. to meet with mortgage counselors and discuss the housing market, asserting “the papers were awash with the news that Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania had endorsed Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president.” The “newspaper of record” further claims “Mr. Bush has sometimes seemed invisible during the housing and credit crunch.” (Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “In Economic Drama, Bush Is Largely Offstage,” The New York Times, 4/3/08)

The New York Times neglects to mention that it failed to send a reporter to cover the President’s housing event in Freehold, N.J. – a town inside its own circulation area.

The New York Times also criticizes President Bush for attending the NATO Summit this week, saying “now Mr. Bush is in Eastern Europe, one of eight foreign trips he is taking this year.”

President Bush is overseas on an important mission to advance critical issues at the NATO Summit, such as missile defense, increased troop presence in Afghanistan, and enlarging NATO’s membership to include new democracies in Europe.

The New York Times inaccurately accuses President Bush of being out of touch with the economy, while “Senate Democrats and Republicans were holed up in the Capitol, scrambling to produce a bill to help struggling homeowners.”

Since August 2007, President Bush has appeared at public events where he has discussed issues pertaining to the economy or housing at least 28 times. In the meantime, since the start of 2008, Congress has been on recess almost as many days as they have been in session.

President Bush first sent Congress an FHA Modernization bill in April 2006. Two years later, Congress still has not passed it. The President’s proposed bill would increase access to FHA-insured loans and expand FHA’s authority to price insurance fairly, with risk-based premiums.

In August 2007, President Bush launched FHASecure, which expands the FHA’s ability to offer refinancing to homeowners who have good credit but cannot afford current payments. Since FHASecure was announced, FHA has helped more than 140,000 families stay in their homes by refinancing about $20 billion worth of mortgages. By the year’s end, this program is expected to have helped a total of nearly 300,000 homeowners.

In October 2007, President Bush and his Administration helped facilitate the formation of the private-sector HOPE NOW Alliance – a group of lenders, investors, and mortgage counselors working to help Americans keep their homes.

In December 2007, President Bush signed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, which helps homeowners avoid foreclosure by protecting them from higher taxes when they refinance. This creates a three-year window for homeowners to refinance and pay no Federal taxes on any debt forgiveness.

In January, the President called for an economic growth package and identified clear principles that would give a booster-shot to the economy and help Americans who may be hurt by an economic slowdown. President Bush recognized the initial signs of slowdown and acted decisively. Congress responded to the President’s call for action, and in February the President signed a bipartisan economic growth package that puts more than $150 billion back in the hands of families and businesses.

Also in January, President Bush created the Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, which brought together business experts and faith-based and non-profit organizations to develop recommendations to better educate Americans about matters pertaining to their finances and their future.

President Bush has continued to press Congress to pass responsible legislation to help struggling homeowners and criticized legislative proposals to bail out lenders.

The President has repeatedly called on Congress to pass legislation that helps at-risk homeowners by permitting cities and States to issue tax-exempt bonds for refinancing existing home loans and by increasing existing bond caps. Under current law, tax-exempt bonds are only for first-time homebuyers and cannot be issued for refinancing.

The President has repeatedly called on Congress to pass legislation to reform the regulation of Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Congress needs to pass legislation that strengthens the independent regulator of the GSEs and ensures their focus on the housing mission.

President Bush has repeatedly called on Congress to ensure the long-term health of our economy by making the tax relief that is now in place permanent. If Congress allows the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to expire, 116 million taxpayers will see their taxes go up by $1,800 on average, and we will see an end to many of the measures that have helped our economy grow – including the 10 percent individual income tax bracket, reductions in the marriage penalty, the expansion of the child tax credit, and reduced rates on regular income, capital gains, and dividends.

According to a study by John Lott and Kevin Hassett, “American newspapers tend to give more positive news coverage to the same economic news when Democrats are in the Presidency than for Republicans.” The study went on to say that “among the Associated Press and the top 10 papers, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, and New York Times tend to be the least likely to report positive news during Republican administrations.” (John R. Lott and Kevin A. Hassett, “Is Newspaper Coverage Of Economic Events Politically Biased?” 10/19/04)

The New York Times apparently missed last week’s White House Fact Sheet listing the many actions President Bush and his Administration have taken to keep the economy growing and assist homeowners.

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