Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Budget change I can believe in

Jonathan Weisman reporting:

Three months ago, President Barack Obama ordered his cabinet secretaries to find $100 million in budget cuts for the current fiscal year to emphasize the point that he, too, was serious about belt-tightening. They responded with $102 million. That is 0.006% of the estimated federal deficit.

The list of 77 spending cuts, which the White House is calling "the $100 million savings challenge," reflects the vastness of government -- and its vast inefficiency. Hundreds of millions of dollars in savings were found simply by casting around for areas to trim.

Still, the reductions barely scratch the surface. "Some of these cuts are so small they would be a rounding error of a rounding error in the federal budget," said Brian Riedl, a federal budget expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation. They also show how "unbelievably outdated" the government is, he said.

"I mean, emailing around the daily press clips instead of printing them out and distributing them? That should not have been necessitated by a presidential order."


If the administration produces $100 million in savings every 98 days for the rest of Mr. Obama's term, the savings will total $1.5 billion, or three days of interest on the federal debt, said Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"These savings tends to be in thousands, tens of thousands and millions," said Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the ranking Republican on theHouse Budget Committee. "Our fiscal challenges are in the thousands of billions."

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