President Barack Obama has been threatening to crack down on government spending and on Thursday he let the budget ax fall — but gently.
He unveiled $17 billion in cuts as part of his administration’s budget for the 2010 fiscal year.
“We can no longer afford to spend as if deficits don’t matter and waste is not our problem. We can no longer afford to leave the hard choices for the next budget, the next administration — or the next generation,” Obama said.
That would be about one half of one percent of his $3.55 trillion budget.
Nearly 1.5 percent of the projected 2010 deficit.
And about $1 billion less than what President George W. Bush proposed to cut from the previous year’s budget.
By comparison, the American family with a median income of about $51,000 a year looking at a 0.5 percent budget cut would need to trim $255.
Asked to explain the discrepancy between the president’s tough words and his meager cuts, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration was only just beginning to go through the budget line by line to eliminate waste.
“Our budget will bring non-defense discretionary spending to the lowest level as a share of our GDP since we began keeping records in 1962,” he said. “We’ll cut the budget deficit in half in four years and put ourselves — put this country — back on a path toward fiscal sustainability.”
The White House then sent round a release from Senator Tom Coburn praising the cuts. Coburn is a notorious Republican budget hawk — and Obama friend — who has repeatedly bottled up legislation in the Senate complaining about its cost.
Other Republicans were less charitable.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called them “modest spending reductions totaling a fraction of a percent of the trillions his budget would add to the debt.”
So what are the president’s budget-cutters planning to chop?
The educational attache to UNESCO in Paris. Gone. (Let ‘em use teleconferencing, Obama says.)
Fixing up the nuclear accelerator building at Los Alamos. Forget about it — the research they do is important for Obama’s energy independence plans, but they can live in the building as it is.
The super-duper helicopter that would replace the president’s current fleet — chopped back by about 90 percent.
So what do you think — are the cuts just token? Or has Obama made a real start toward getting a handle on federal spending?
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Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama speaks about budget cuts); Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Copies of the budget book on display)