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"G.O.P. Sees Opportunities Arising From Storm"

The NYT reports on the relentless march of "compassionate conservatism":

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...
The Bush administration has already moved to relax a variety of regulations in areas damaged by the hurricane. Many of the changes are small, like letting people take bigger tax deductions for the miles they drive while doing charitable work. Another change, announced on Friday by Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, will give preference to investment groups from hurricane areas that are seeking tax credits for community development projects.
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.
"There are a lot of opportunities to experiment," said Mr. Snow, who jointed Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez in a rapid trip to highlight the administration's hurricane-relief operations...

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