WASHINGTON (Associated Press) - In a surprise move that stunned Washington insiders, the Bush administration announced a series of initiatives to be sent before Congress later today. White House spokesman Scott McLellan read a statement to reporters at the Thursday morning White House Press Briefing:
"We want to undo the damage of the last three years, the partisan bickering, the gridlock, the vitriol, the anger. We want to reach out to our opponents and do what's best for the future and for all Americans. President Bush ran as a uniter, not a divider, and he's offering these new initiatives in the hope that serious and substantial legislation can be undertaken in a truly non-partisan manner. As of this morning, the President is personally calling on Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to meet this weekend at Camp David with their Republican counterparts and top White House advisors."
Some Democrats cautioned that this is an election year tactic meant to remove various public relations obstacles while increasing the President's chances for reelection. Senator Kerry, who was traveling between campaign stops in Pennsylvania, quickly issued a statement saying, "I haven't read the proposals, but I will do so and respond shortly."
A copy of the President's "New Century Initiatives Program" — as it is formally titled — was given to reporters after McLellan's brief remarks at the White House.
The list includes the following "initiatives" for the next nine months of 2004:
* Hand over security, civil, and military functions in Iraq to representatives of the United Nations;
* A repeal of recent tax cuts in order to help reduce the deficit and fight the war in Iraq and Afghanistan;
* Negotiate a roll back of some aspects of The Patriot Act, including those that violate civil rights and privacy of American citizens;
* A national health insurance program that would be available to all citizens regardless of financial status;
* An official apology to the families of those who died on 9/11, signed by all Bush Cabinet members and the Directors of the CIA and the FBI.
* A call for a new peace plan between Israel and Palestine, which would include restoring borders to pre-1973 boundaries — to be enforced by as many as 300,000 UN and NATO troops to be stationed along the West Bank indefinitely.
* Awarding the 2004 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Robert Novak, and Mel Gibson.