Obama Challenges Agencies To Cut $100M From Budgets

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Fiscal Responsibility, Good Decisions, Money

I’ve already seen many scoff at Obama’s pledge to go line by line through the budget, but aren’t those the same people who are calling for less government spending?

It would be heartening to see the following moves applauded instead of ridiculed, especially since all we hear from the right wing these days is how wasteful Washington is.

Here are some of the savings already found…

—The Department of Veterans Affairs has cancelled or delayed 26 conferences, saving nearly $17.8 million. The department will be using less expensive alternatives, like video conferencing.

—The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to combine 1,500 employees from seven office locations into a single facility in 2011, saving $62 million over a 15-year lease term.

—The Department of Homeland Security estimates that it can save up to $52 million over five years just by purchasing office supplies in bulk.

Yes, I know that the big money programs are what most of the debate is over, but reform in that arena is going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort.

So let’s celebrate those things we can change immediately as a sign that things are progressing towards a reality where we all want them to go, yes?


This entry was posted on Monday, April 20th, 2009 and is filed under Fiscal Responsibility, Good Decisions, Money. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

28 Responses to “Obama Challenges Agencies To Cut $100M From Budgets”

  1. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    0.0029%

  2. J. Harden Says:

    Similarly, my six year old gave up blue M&M’s for Lent this year. It was a struggle, but she managed to survive.

  3. gerryf Says:

    point made….oh, and how much did Bush curtail spending again? Since you to have stepped forward to show us all how fiscally conservative you are are, how come you guys weren’t all over him for his spending?

  4. J. Harden Says:

    gerryf – Like I’ve said before, Obama’s economic policies make me go to my happy-place and I refuse to be pried from my happy-place with patronizing crumbs of rationality. So I would humbly ask if we can just concentrate on the economic bliss just around the corner. This kind of post is a TOTAL buzz-kill. Don’t be that dude, Justin.

  5. gerryf Says:

    well, it’s not surprising you’re in that happy place since you probably got all of your daughter’s blue M&Ms…..I’d be happy, too, with a month’s supply of hard-candy-coated-chocolate goodness

  6. Jason Arvak Says:

    Sorry, Justin, but this set of double standards is too much for me to stomach without calling you out on it:

    http://www.poligazette.com/2009/04/20/obama-boldly-moves-to-cut-01-from-deficit/

  7. Realizer Says:

    Obama = Budget Warrior for the American People!

    This is AWESOME! I knew he was good, but to have the cojones to DEMAND…I repeat…DEMAND that $100M be cut reminds me why I voted for this example of what executive leadership is all about! I mean, c’mon…we are talking $100M people! This is HUGE!

    Obama…YES WE CAN!!!!!

  8. gerryf Says:

    Jason,

    I think the best quote from your linked article is “(h)ad a Republican president offered a .003% dent in the budget as evidence of fiscal discipline….”

    As any informed voter might point out, there hasn’t been any Republic president in 30+ years who even attempted to cut the budget. Despite claims of fiscal responsibility, Republican presidents have spent, spent, spent on the overall budget. While they have occasionally cut programs that actually help people in need, and reduction was quickly spent somewhere else, mostly for “defense.”

  9. Realizer Says:

    I just noticed this one:

    —The Department of Homeland Security estimates that it can save up to $52 million over five years just by purchasing office supplies in bulk.

    Yes, yes, YES!!! Nothing but pure brilliance! I hope the Department of Medical Insurance – when it is FINALLY (thank goodness!!!) created – has this one figured out from day one.

  10. Jason Arvak Says:

    gerryf,
    Even if that is 100% true, it is completely non-responsive to my criticism of whether we should “celebrate” Obama’s blatant stunt. “But the other guy is worse” doesn’t even work as an excuse for 5-year-olds on a playground. Yet the left side of the blogosphere treats it as an all-purpose, no-exceptions shield against any and all criticism. And I call BS on that.

  11. Realizer Says:

    Yo, gerryf…I like you! You should also tell everybody that going back as far as our man FDR, Republican Presidents have had a supportive House for 8 of 36 years of a Republican Presidency and a supportive Senate for 12 of 36 years! That is plenty of time to cut the budget!

    At least we’ve actually TRIED to do something during the 32 of 40 years we’ve controlled both the Presidency and Congress! Oh, nevermind…

  12. gerryf Says:

    OK, fair enough.

    I am not celebrating Obama’s “fiscal responsibility,” in fact, I never was, but I am perplexed why you can call BS on the stupidity of tooting horns over a .003 percent reduction, but I cannot call BS on people who suddenly got religion on fiscal responsibility.

    My point is not that we ought to laud Obama’s moves as the greatest thing since sliced bread, but that it seems a bit hypocritical to me that people are criticizing him for not cutting enough, when those same people stood quietly by while the president they supported spent money like a drunk sailor in a Singapore whore house.

    Now, if these people had been saying all along that we need to be fiscally responsible, I’d give them credit, but when they criticize Democratic spending restraint–albeit miniscule restraint–but smiled while a Republican president increases spending and then fantasizes about imaginary tax revenues resulting from cutting tax rates–well, I think I get to call BS.

    So, BS.

  13. rob Says:

    @gerryf

    G-dumbya, at the end of his tirade, pushed the deficit up to 1 trillion. That was over 8 years of acting like a schoolgirl with daddy’s credit card while asset bubbles masked the relative magnitude of the increased deficits.

    We could all see that he was spending a lot, but revenues were on a tear from all sources.

    Obama’s going to triple down on what he started with AND he’s got a deep recession on his hands so the numbers look even more stark.

    Is it really that hard to understand why more folks didn’t get it when it was a blip on the radar, where as now it’s taking up the entire screen?

  14. Jason Arvak Says:

    I am not celebrating Obama’s “fiscal responsibility,” in fact, I never was, but I am perplexed why you can call BS on the stupidity of tooting horns over a .003 percent reduction, but I cannot call BS on people who suddenly got religion on fiscal responsibility.

    You can as an independent and unrelated point, but as a response to a criticism of Obama’s stunt, it is simply non-responsive. Unfortunately, that is how it is almost always used in the current blogosphere — any time that anyone says anything even mildly critical of Obama, anti-Bushies jump up and yell about how GWB was worse, as if that changing of the subject constituted a dispositive response. It doesn’t.

    My point is not that we ought to laud Obama’s moves as the greatest thing since sliced bread, but that it seems a bit hypocritical to me that people are criticizing him for not cutting enough, when those same people stood quietly by while the president they supported spent money like a drunk sailor in a Singapore whore house.

    Is it your contention that ALL of the people who are criticizing Obama had no objection to Bush’s deficits and over-spending? If so, I would ask that you document the charge before applying to a specific case such as myself. If that is not your argument, then the fact that some of Obama’s OTHER critics might be hypocrites is irrelevant to any response directed towards me. Furthermore, even a valid charge of hypocrisy in the critic does not validate Obama’s stunt-pulling. If hypocrisy is a shield against criticism, then it was also hypocritical for anyone to criticize Bush for signing statements, for example. But that didn’t stop anyone nor should it have.

    The whole “all the critics are hypocrites” bit is a wearisome dodge from real issues. Obama should be held to a higher standard than merely not being worse than his predecessor. But seemingly, Obama’s most slavish fans don’t seem to want to talk about anything except an endless comparison to Bush. That way lies a spiral to the bottom.

  15. gerryf Says:

    Jason,

    Please note that my original post was created before you arrived in this post. I was specifically directing my barb at the first poster in this thread, who has a long history of partisan hackery. There was never a valid criticism of Bush as far as Jimmy the Dhimmi is concerned. JHarden is not far behind him, but I consider him a principled conservative, who curbed his criticism of Bush.

    It is NOT my contention that everyone critical of Obama’s spending had no objection to Bush–but there are a number of other posters on this site who reguarly supported anything and everything Bush did and said. The comments are for them.

    While we are on the topic of slavish fans, I should hope it is not your contention that anyone who supports Obama is never critical. I’d like you to document that.

    I can point to numerous posts by left of center posters who are critical of Obama–myself included. Criticism of Bush from the right was exceedingly rare even when it was dumbfoundingly obvious he deserved criticism.

  16. Jason Arvak Says:

    While we are on the topic of slavish fans, I should hope it is not your contention that anyone who supports Obama is never critical.

    Geez, I hope not, since I myself am an Obama supporter on many issues, including most of his foreign policy moves and the general approach to economic stimulus. But Justin’s claim that this transparent and trivial political stunt was something to “celebrate” is a bridge too far. I think it is an insult to hold President Obama to a standard so low as “well, at least he’s better than Bush” and I think it is also dangerous to avoid criticism of Obama out of fear that criticism will somehow lead to Bush’s zombie doppleganger rising from the political grave or something.

    The bottom line is that a lot of those who claim to be centrists, including Justin, made some commitments to be as tough and critical of Obama as they were of Bush. And so far I frankly don’t think that many of them, including Justin, are living up to their promise.

  17. Justin Gardner Says:

    Jason, please, get your facts straight. I am an open minded liberal. I am not claiming to be a centrist.

    Also, this is a moderate site. That means it welcomes all points of views. So I don’t take part in partisan hackery or bomb throwing and I expect my contributors not to either. But, as a liberal, I am going to favor Obama’s policies more. If you don’t like that, I don’t know what to tell you.

    Besides, you’re actually criticizing me for applauding Obama on delivering on one of his promises? It doesn’t matter if the cuts are small or if they’re not up to your own personal standards. You have to start somewhere.

    Basically, accuse me of spinning all you like, but your anger is misdirected.

  18. Kevin Says:

    Before most of your times I am sure but Senator Dirksen from Illinois put it best, “A million here, a million there, pretty soon you are talking real money.”

    If he did nothing, he gets no credit. If he does something, it wasn’t enough. If he did it all, he’s an Arab, he doesn’t go to church enough, he doesn’t love his country, he hates our freedom, he wants to kill babies, he wants to take our guns, he believes in science. Sorry to feel this way but he could be the second coming and the base would still be against him. They are post rational, and it has been less than 3 months.

    Give the guy a chance and criticize him for real things, like his dismissive answer on drug legalization and so far bowing to politics on torture. For Republicans who are upset that he isn’t doing it the way they want, realize that America and the world were sick of the direction you were headed so if you are not on board, he is likely doing something right.

  19. Mario Piperni Says:

    Talk about cynicism. It might be only $100 million but it is a start to eliminating wasteful spending. More important is understanding that this is only a single part of the entire Obama game plan.

    To make it appear that Obama will now sit back and think the job done once they eliminate $100 million is foolish.

  20. [email protected] Says:

    How exactly does one define “savings”?
    For instance:

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to combine 1,500 employees from seven office locations into a single facility in 2011, saving $62 million over a 15-year lease term.

    Yet, the 2009 omnibus spending bill increased the DOA budget by 13% or 2.4 billion dollars.

    So we are actually just increasing spending by a fraction of a percent less than we were before.

    One could say that it is just stimulus, but the stimulus bill actually increased the DOA budget by 32% before the 2009 omnibus spending bill was passed.

    Is that “savings”?
    I guess it is all in the eye of the beholder.

  21. ExiledIndependent Says:

    Man, semantics arguments are tricky, but I wouldn’t call this a “moderate” site. It’s a site run by a liberal (hopefully in the good connotation of the word) that welcomes all points of view. But the drive here from the participants isn’t moderation, it’s open discussion (which tends to veer left/right, rarely “moderate”). Not a bad thing at all, again, just a semantics thing.

  22. kranky kritter Says:

    If Obama is asking the dep’t heads to do the work, then it sounds to me like instead of actually going through these budgets line by line, he’s delegating. Which is OK, but a bit diffferent from rolling up your sleeves and digging in.

    Words are insufficient to express my exponentially growing contempt for the argument which dismisses Obama’s spending policies because the GOP did it too.

    Anyone from either wing who really wants to have a reasonable discussion about gov’t spending policy is hereby invited to stipulate that Bush and the GOP did nothing effective to curb spending, after which we can all agree not to keep coming back round to this, since we’ve previously agreed upon it.

    Then just maybe we can talk about what levels of government spending are sustainable without pushing the gov’t into insolvency. Circumstances are plenty bad enough that we should be able to acknowledge that assigning blame will not achieve anything useful. Right here and right now, it must be about taking responsibility. If every new admin doesn’t have to take responsibility because the last one didn’t…well, you do the projection.

    Oh wait, “Clinton” balanced the budget. All by himself. With one hand. Uphill. Both ways. Through the snow.

  23. Simon Says:

    Gerryf says: “and how much did Bush curtail spending again?” And Rob says: “G-dumbya, at the end of his tirade, pushed the deficit up to 1 trillion.” Well, one can but respond in the words of our esteemed editor, three weeks ago: “Bush is done. We’re talking about now.”

    (At the time, I observed that the point was hard to take seriously when the left instantly pushes the Bush comparison button in any argument, an instinct exemplified by Rob and Gerry’s comments above.)

  24. rob Says:

    @Simon
    Work on your reading comprehension.

  25. Justin Gardner Says:

    @Simon, you can’t ignore holdover numbers from previous administrations when we’re talking about cumulative effects. And that post you link to was about right-wing rhetoric about “revolution”, not substantive policies.

    As far as gerryf and rob, well, they obviously speak for themselves, not the entire left. However, as mentioned, one can’t ignore holdover.

    @kranky, I don’t ever remember Obama saying he was personally go through budgets line by line. He said “we,” meaning the government.

    @Rob, seriously, cool it. There’s no need to call people names or get nasty.

  26. rob Says:

    Since when is suggesting that someone, who completely misreads a post, work on their reading comprehension is nasty?

    And while we’re at it, whom here (aside from the light shot at the former president for whom I twice voted) did I call a name other than the one they’ve given?

  27. Jason Arvak Says:

    Also, this is a moderate site. That means it welcomes all points of views. So I don’t take part in partisan hackery or bomb throwing and I expect my contributors not to either. But, as a liberal, I am going to favor Obama’s policies more. If you don’t like that, I don’t know what to tell you.

    I don’t have a problem with favoring Obama’s policies. As I said, I tend in that direction myself. I do have a problem with double standards and disingenuous spinning under a pretense of bipartisanship. And I think in many posts, including this one, you sacrifice integrity and independence to avoid giving ground even when Obama’s critics might have a legitimate point. Your insistence on an Obama-is-perfect-no-matter-what narrative and the over-the-top adulation like asking us to “celebrate” a .003% deficit reduction mostly obtained through office supply reform makes your claims of open-mindedness appear frankly ridiculous from my perspective.

    My criticism is not offered to bash you, but in the hopes that I can get to to tone down the hero-worship a notch or two and start trying a bit more fair-minded critic. A moderate niche in the blogosphere requires moderates that are willing to BOTH praise AND criticize BOTH sides. When “moderate” becomes just another word for “standard Democratic Party talking points”, its really not adding much that the leftist blogosphere doesn’t already provide in great volume.

  28. Donklephant » Blog Archive » Obama’s $100M Budget Cut Put In Perspective Says:

    […] As I inferred when I first heard about the budget cuts, it’s a good start. And that’s all it is. A start. Because ultimately $100M is not a lot of money, but when you keep trimming and finding savings, it all begins to add up. […]

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