Obama Orders Spending Cuts, Defends Effort

Posted April 20, 2009 at 1:14pm

President Barack Obama on Monday instructed his Cabinet chiefs to delete $100 million from their collective budgets, asking them to chip away at spending on routine items to save money. Obama, who issued the orders to his advisers during the first formal Cabinet meeting of his presidency, said agency leaders should report back with the savings they’ve found in 90 days.

“Moving forward, we have an obligation … to make sure that this government is as efficient as possible and that every taxpayer dollar that is spent is spent wisely,— Obama said in remarks to reporters just after the Cabinet session.

A document released by the White House detailed some cost savings that have already occurred, including moves such as consolidating computer use, energy efficiency, cutting office supplies, going paperless, curtailing travel and consolidating contracts and posts.

Republicans sought to use the White House’s own argument against the GOP anti-earmark crusade — that they represent a small portion of total spending — against Obama’s cost-cutting initiative.

“The White House is announcing today that they are cutting $100 million of federal spending,— Antonia Ferrier, spokeswoman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), said in a statement. “That might sound like a lot to some, but if you do a little math that turns out to be 0.0025 percent of federal spending for Fiscal Year 2009.—

Obama acknowledged that the cuts are partially symbolic. “None of these savings by themselves are going to solve our long-term fiscal problems,— Obama said, but he added that taken together they “send a signal— about his administration’s intent to limit spending. But he also asserted that they eventually add up to real money “even here in Washington.—

Obama emphasized that the effort was separate from “combing— of the budget by Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag to find programmatic cuts, saying that the White House would cut “at least 100 current programs.—