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White House rebuts N.Y. Times on GI Bill

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For the second time in a week, the White House has lashed out at a news agency, this time chiding the New York Times yesterday for an editorial about the president's position on a proposed update of the GI Bill.

"President Bush opposes a new G.I. Bill of Rights. He worries that if the traditional path to college for service members since World War II is improved and expanded for the post-9/11 generation, too many people will take it," the New York Times said yesterday in an editorial titled "Mr. Bush and the G.I. Bill."

The newspaper cited the version of the bill written by Sens. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, and Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican. The senators, both Vietnam veterans, say that increased college costs have outstripped benefits under the current GI Bill. The Webb-Hagel bill "would pay full tuition and other expenses at a four-year public university for veterans who served in the military for at least three years since 9/11," the editorial stated.

"This editorial could not be farther from the truth about the President's record of leadership on this issue," the White House said, adding that Mr. Bush asked Congress to address allowing service members to transfer their GI Bill benefits to their spouses and children, and to expand service members' access to child care, among other benefits.

"The President specifically supports the GI Bill legislation expansion proposed by Senators [Lindsey] Graham, [Richard M.] Burr, and [John] McCain because it allows for the transferability of education benefits and calibrates an increase in education benefits to time in the service," the White House said. "Though readers of the New York Times editorial page wouldn't know it, President Bush looks forward to signing a GI bill that supports our troops and their families."

The New York Times did not respond to a request for a response to the White House's criticism.

Last week, the White House accused NBC News of selectively editing an interview of Mr. Bush by correspondent Richard Engel, calling the network irresponsible and misleading. In response, NBC President Steve Capus said "editing is a part of journalism," and the network posted transcripts of both the edited and unedited interviews on its Web site.

The White House's latest criticism of the New York Times is part of the Bush administration's efforts to take the media to task.

Since 2005, the White House has publicly fact-checked news coverage through "Setting the Record Straight," a feature on the White House Web site, www.whitehouse.gov. In the past year, the press office added a "Morning Update," e-mailed to journalists each day outlining pertinent stories and official responses.

The GI Bill of Rights, also known as the Servicemen's Readjustment Act, was enacted in 1944 to provide education benefits and low-interest home loans to veterans of World War II.

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