Obama Proposes Cutting 121 Federal Programs

by Gary Therkildsen*, 5/8/2009

Treasury Department

Yesterday, the Obama administration unveiled details of its $3.5 trillion federal budget for FY 2010. The plan includes cutting or scaling back 121 federally funded programs, thereby eliminating $17 billion in government spending. Administration officials recognize that the proposed savings represent less than one half of one percent of all spending, but emphasize that the cuts are an important first step towards President Obama's goal of drastically reducing inefficient budget expenditures.

Roughly $12 billion of savings will come from slashing discretionary spending, including the elimination of approximately $8.5 billion in inefficient or obsolete Defense Department programs. Examples of other cuts include the elimination of Even Start, an early childhood education program that officials believe is not working; cancellation of the Coast Guard's Long Range Radio Navigation System (made obsolete by global positioning system technology); and cessation of the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, which loses 80 percent of its funding to overhead costs.

In an effort to show support for President Obama's spending cuts, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked House committee chairs to search for savings in the agencies and programs under their jurisdiction. Despite this and other broad language from Democratic members of Congress welcoming the measures, it may be very difficult for these cuts to be passed into law. As one administration official pointed out, "There are very few programs in the federal budget that don't have a constituency and someone who's willing to stand up for them in Congress."

Image by Flickr user afagen used under a Creative Commons license.

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