Cutting government waste-start with the swag!
November 9th, 2011
10:01 AM ET

Cutting government waste-start with the swag!


As Americans continue to struggle with their personal budgets in a fragile economy, President Obama is taking steps Wednesday to cut billions of dollars in what the White House terms wasteful spending in the federal budget.  Targeting areas such as government travel, the doling out of smart phones and laptops to government workers and limiting who gets a free car for official duties, the plan builds on the Campaign to Cut Waste program which the administration says has already saved $8.5 billion.  An administration official tells CNN the new cuts could save billions more. 

Wednesday the president will sign an executive order, once again bypassing Congress, to expand an already existing administration program to cut waste and promote efficient spending across the federal government according to an official release from the White House.  

The latest plan aims to cut spending by 20% on travel, technology and federal vehicles.  The administration is directing agencies to cut back on travel and conference-related spending and instead use video conferences and webinars. 

For instance the administration says NASA has cut its travel budget $17 million in 2012 by cutting back on the number of people it sends to conferences and even having employees share rental cars on trips.

The government will also be taking a close look at who gets those coveted technology toys.  Smart phones, I-Pads and laptops will all come under scrutiny. 

The White House says agencies like the Department of Commerce have already cut back here, saving $3 million this year by just disconnecting 2,648 wireless lines that hadn't been used in the past 3 months.  Turns out many of those phones had been given to people who retired or quit their jobs and the accounts had never been turned off. 

And all those chauffeured official vehicles cruising the streets of DC—no more!  The administration says it costs $9 million a year for all ofWashington's official cars.  Agencies will be tasked to cut back on this perk too. 

The government will also cut back on wasteful printing and instead use email or post items on line.  Finally don't look for those free mugs with your favorite agency logo anymore.  Agencies are being told to "avoid purchasing goods that are frivolous or unnecessary". The edict:  no more clothing items (t-shirts, hats), mugs and "non-work related gadgets" for promotional purposes. 

While the administration is cutting costs the savings won’t go toward cutting the debt or deficit.

All the savings will be reinvested.

“The billions that is no longer spent on unnecessary travel, printing, IT devices, or other extraneous items – will allow us to focus our resources on the things that really matter, like supporting veterans and our armed forces, and investing in our nation’s infrastructure to help grow the economy,” an administration official told CNN. 

Bottom line– cut the swag!

Topics: Budget • President Obama
August 10th, 2011
12:00 PM ET

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Topics: Budget • Poll • The Buzz
Trying to break a stalemate
July 12th, 2011
01:39 PM ET

Trying to break a stalemate

Washington (CNN) - The two sides seem as far apart as ever as they try to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling. All of the negotiators agree they don't want to see the U.S. default, but how they get to any agreement is unclear.

After the second meeting in as many days among the principal negotiators, congressional leaders were tasked with talking to their members, crunching some numbers and coming back with new ideas about how to bridge their differences and reach at least $600 billion more in budget savings - the approximate amount in deficit reduction needed to get a hike in the debt ceiling approved in Congress, multiple officials familiar with the ongoing talks tell CNN. Republicans have said they would only consider a debt hike if a bigger amount in budget savings was attached.

Since the idea of a grand deal was abandoned over the weekend, the leaders have gone back to the outlines of negotiations chaired by Vice President Biden, which lasted just under two months, as they try to craft a deal before August 2nd. But those Biden-led talks ended up breaking down at the end of June over the same issues that killed the later sessions involving the President and Speaker John Boehner in trying to craft a major deficit reduction package - how much to cut in entitlements and the White House insistence some revenue increases be part of any package.

So when the congressional leaders come back to the White House Tuesday afternoon will they bring with them fresh proposals - or will the same old ones and their philosophical differences simply be re-hashed?

Topics: Budget • Debt Ceiling talks • The News
Obama talks fiscal reform at town hall-style meeting
April 19th, 2011
02:45 PM ET

Obama talks fiscal reform at town hall-style meeting

By CNN's Tom Cohen

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Facing a possible future downgrade of America's credit rating, President Barack Obama on Tuesday told the first of three town hall-style meetings this week that a "big philosophical divide" exists between his approach to deficit reduction and how Republicans think.

The hour-long event at Northern Virginia Community College brought few challenging questions from a mostly student audience that cheered Obama and applauded his major policy statements.

Given such free rein, Obama delivered campaign-style messages that emphasized what he called his balanced approach to reducing federal deficits and bringing down the national debt versus a Republican proposal that the president characterized as unfair to middle-class Americans and vulnerable communities such as senior citizens.


Topics: Budget • The News • Virginia
Obama signs 2011 budget deal into law
April 15th, 2011
05:52 PM ET

Obama signs 2011 budget deal into law

WASHINGTON (CNN)President Barack Obama signed the budget agreement covering federal spending for the remainder of the current fiscal year on Friday, an administration official said, bringing an end to any remaining fears of a government shutdown.

The bipartisan deal, which won approval Thursday from both the House and Senate, cuts $38.5 billion in spending while funding the government through September 30.

With its passage, White House and congressional leaders now turn their attention to what are expected to be more rancorous battles over the budget for the next fiscal year and the upcoming need to raise the federal debt limit.

The deal covering the current year was announced by key leaders shortly before midnight last Friday, a mere hour before what would have been the start of a partial shutdown. Spokesmen on both sides of the aisle portrayed it as a step toward controlling America's skyrocketing debt.

Topics: Budget • President Obama • The News
Obama calls for $4 trillion in deficit reduction
Members of Congress listen to Obama speak at George Washington University
April 13th, 2011
02:43 PM ET

Obama calls for $4 trillion in deficit reduction

By CNN's Alan Silverlieb and Tom Cohen -
WASHINGTON (CNN) -President Barack Obama unveiled his long-awaited deficit reduction plan Wednesday, calling for a mix of spending reductions and tax hikes that the White House claims would cut federal deficits by $4 trillion over the next 12 years without gutting popular programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Obama's plan includes a repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts on families making more than $250,000 annually - something sought by Democrats but strongly opposed by Republicans. The president also called for the creation of a "debt fail-safe" trigger that would impose automatic across-the-board spending cuts and tax changes in coming years if annual deficits are on track to exceed 2.8% of the nation's gross domestic product.

The president claimed that by building on or adjusting the health care reform bill passed last year, $480 billion would be saved by 2023, followed by an additional $1 trillion in the following decade. For example, he proposed tightly constraining the growth in Medicare costs starting in 2018.

Topics: Budget • President Obama • The News
Obama to call for end of tax cuts for wealthy
April 13th, 2011
09:20 AM ET

Obama to call for end of tax cuts for wealthy

WASHINGTON (CNN) -President Obama is setting a goal of reducing the deficit by $4 trillion in 12 years or less, according to a senior administration official.

A senior administration official also said President Obama’s speech on long term deficit reduction at George Washington University is expected to last 40-45 minutes.

The official also confirmed that the president will call for an end to the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, those making over 250-thousand dollars a year.

For more analysis on the plan, check out CNNMoney.

Topics: Budget • President Obama • The News
Obama meets students he mentioned in budget deal speech
President Obama meets with students from Altona Middle School in Longmont, Colorado
April 11th, 2011
03:35 PM ET

Obama meets students he mentioned in budget deal speech

WASHINGTON (CNN) -All they wanted was for their class trip to Washington not to fall victim to a government shutdown. But a group of students from Colorado ended up getting a little more than just the standard class photo from the trip – a personal meeting with President Obama on the White House South Lawn.

“Now that things worked out, we figured we’d give you a little bonus,” Obama said Monday as he greeted the students from Altona Middle School in Longmont, Colorado.

In his remarks Friday evening following the budget deal on Capitol Hill, Obama cited a letter from Shalini Schane, a mother of one of the students in the class, who begged him to reach an agreement with Congress so her son’s trip to Washington would not be cancelled. “She wrote this wonderful letter,” Obama said as he greeted Schane and her son, and told the students he wanted to arrange a meeting with them after Schane “explained how wonderful your trip was,” in her letter.

Topics: Budget • President Obama • White House
April 9th, 2011
05:04 PM ET

Surprise visitor at the Lincoln Memorial

WASHINGTON (CNN) -Basking in the absence of a government shutdown, President Obama made an unannouced visit to the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington on Saturday to greet a surprised set of visitors enjoying their afternoon.

With cameras snapping, Obama shook hands and said he made the stop "because Congress was able to settle its differences, that's why this place is open today."

Obama said he hoped the cooperation between Democrats and Republicans that yielded a deal would continue.

"I hope you have a great time," the president said as he headed back to the White House.

Topics: Budget • President Obama • The News
Behind the scenes of the White House budget battle
President Obama in the White House Blue Room following his remarks on the budget deal
April 9th, 2011
03:15 AM ET

Behind the scenes of the White House budget battle

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In a town where politicians like to keep score the White House isn’t boasting about the budget victory. “The American people" won, a senior administration official told reporters at a background briefing after the deal was reached. This is a "very good night for the country."

The White House was feeling optimistic that it was on the verge of a deal Thursday night.

When House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Harry Reid left the Oval Office meeting, “there was kind of an agreement on a range and agreement on the kind of composition,” said another one of five officials who briefed reporters.

But by three or four o’clock in the morning Friday, the officials described a breakdown.

Topics: Budget • President Obama • The News