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Eye Opener: Budget Day!

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Thursday! The president's detailed FY 2010 budget gets released today and hundreds of government programs appear headed for the chopping block.

"White House budget director Peter Orszag and his deputy, Rob Nabors, laid out 121 programs Mr. Obama wants eliminated or consolidated next year in a meeting with senior Democratic lawmakers Thursday," the WSJ's Jonathan Weisman first scooped. "That would bring spending down by $15 billion compared with what it would have been without those cuts. The proposed trims amount to one-half of 1% of the $3.6 trillion in spending planned for 2010." Yeah, The Post's Amy Goldstein and Lori Montgomery call the cuts "a minute fraction of next year's $3.4 trillion budget."

"Under President Obama's budget request, passed last week by Congress, the federal deficit is projected to exceed $1.2 trillion next year, forcing the government to borrow huge amounts to finance its operations. Republicans have urged the administration to do more to put the country back on a sound fiscal footing.

"Even so, many of the administration's proposals -- however modest -- might not survive. Last year, then-president George W. Bush targeted 151 programs for cuts or elimination, for a potential savings of $34 billion. But Bush's hit list was widely ignored on Capitol Hill, and yesterday congressional sources and independent budget analysts predicted that Obama's plan would meet the same fate."

Jackie Calmes of the NYT notes that most of the cuts will come from DOD. "Among [Defense Secretary Robert Gates'] targets are missile defense programs, the Army’s costly Future Combat Systems, Navy shipbuilding, the advanced F-22 fighter jets and a state-of-the-art helicopter fleet for the president.

Speaking of the budget, Winslow T. Wheeler (Best. Byline. Ever.) opines in Politico (lowercase only here, sorry) that reporters and citizens should be careful when reading up on proposed DOD cuts: "Add it all together, and you get $974 billion -- almost $1 trillion. If you want to know how much we spend for defense in a generic sense, you can about double the $534 billion many articles will report."

Cabinet & Staff News: Is Michelle Flournoy the next defense secretary? Some upset by the current SecDef's trip to Egypt. National Security Adviser Jim Jones tries the quiet approach. Gary Locke hires the daughter of Washington state's governor to serve as legislative director. Marc Morial will lead Locke's Census advisory committee. Two Republican senators hold up State Department and FEMA nominees.

Today's Big Event: Public Service Recognition Week festivities move to the National Mall today with three days of performances and demonstrations by civilian and military agencies. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.) speaks at the opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. today. More information on this weekend's events here.

Awesome!: The number of U.S. households opting for only cell phones has for the first time surpassed those that just have traditional landlines. Twenty percent of households had only cells during the last half of 2008, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released Wednesday. (Count The Eye among them!)

DOJ Finds Many Flaws in FBI Terror Watch List: "The report said the mistakes posed a risk to national security, because of the failure to flag actual suspected terrorists, as well as an unnecessary nuisance for non-suspects who may be questioned at a traffic stops or stopped from boarding an airplane," reports Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times. "By the beginning of 2009, the report said, the government’s terrorist watch lists included about 400,000 people, listed as 1.1 million names and aliases, an exponential growth from the days before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when it included fewer than two dozen people."

DHS Halting NYC Program to Detect Biological Attacks: The Post's Spencer S. Hsu reports it's ending due to technical problems. "Robert Hooks, a deputy assistant secretary, said the department no longer believes it is necessary to expand the pilot program, as he told Congress in July, because of resource and technology limits. Hooks said a long-planned alternative sensor system, set for initial deployment late next year, also will not be available nationwide until 2012, to allow for more testing."

The Science of Diplomacy: "As he recommits resources to this most important field, Obama must remember that science and technology have tremendous applications in and effects on the world of foreign policy as well," Vaughan Turekian of the Center for Science Diplomacy writes in Foreign Policy.

Security Breach Foiled at Pentagon: The AP reports that "An unidentified man tried to push his way past Pentagon security Wednesday and was wrestled to the ground by police and arrested. ... The man tried to get into the huge military headquarters near the building entrance that fronts on Washington's subway system and a number of bus routes. But it was unclear how he got to the Pentagon."

Leavitt On Pandemic Prep: The former HHS secretary weighs in on the swine flu/H1N1 virus outbreak.

NTSB Hearings on Buffalo Crash Expected to Focus on Pilots: The Post's transportation reporter Sholnn Freeman reports that "The professionalism of the pilots involved in the Feb. 12 crash of a commuter airplane outside Buffalo is expected to be a key area of scrutiny at public hearings into the accident next week, according to people who have been briefed by the National Transportation Safety Board."

FAA's Air-Traffic Networks Breached by Hackers: Siobhan Gorman of the WSJ writes that "Civilian air-traffic computer networks have been penetrated multiple times in recent years, including an attack that partially shut down air-traffic data systems in Alaska, according to a government report."

Hacker Indicted in Cisco, NASA Attacks: "A Swedish computer hacker was indicted Tuesday for breaking into the networks of tech-gear maker Cisco Systems Inc. and high-end computing equipment" at the Space agency, report Siobhan Gorman and Yochi J. Dreazen of the WSJ. "The attacks underscore the development of a vast underground economy that targets both the private sector and the government."

Parental Leave Passes: "When it comes to paid parental leave for federal employees, everything isn't simple motherhood and apple pie," writes The Post's Joe Davidson. "To Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, legislation that would allow Frankie and Flo Fed four paid weeks of leave following the birth, adoption or fostering of a child is a dollar sign -- $850 million over five years."

Berry Calls For Regulatory Reforms: The OPM director "said he wanted to act swiftly to remove regulatory barriers that prevent federal retirees from returning to the agencies where they worked to help with specific projects, and to eliminate rules making it difficult for agencies to retain talented interns. He also called for changes so veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will be able to find jobs that suit their skills and interests in agencies outside the Defense Department," according to Gov Exec's Alyssa Rosenberg.

Tide May Be Turning in Favor of Domestic Partner Benefits: Rosenberg also pens a lengthy report on how gay and lesbian couples may soon benefit from a series of local, state and federal measures.

Slow Pace in Rehiring Retirees Angers Lawmaker: "Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., was visibly upset at a Tuesday hearing when she learned the Office of Personnel Management hadn’t granted the General Services Administration a waiver to rehire more retirees for its stimulus projects," reports Federal Times' Rebecca Neal. "Norton said she assumed GSA and its inspector general would rehire annuitants to fill temporary positions created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which gave GSA $5.5 billion to build and renovate federal buildings."

HUD Staffers See Increased Mass Transit Benefits: Federal News Radio reports that HUD's employee transit benefits will increase to $230 a month, up from $120. The increase will be retroactive to March 1. Ironically, doesn't this mean fewer potential listeners for Federal News Radio?

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 7, 2009; 5:49 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Next: Eye On the Government Printing Office


It looks to me as if this new budget plan is not working at the moment. The cuts that they are planning on making account for 1/2 of 1% of the spending plan? I am sure there are other programs that could be "trimmed" that would create less of a deficit for the nation. As for the loss of jobs, I wonder how many will be lost during this trimming session. There was a huge promise of more jobs that may now be negated by these program cuts.

Posted by: capsfan55 | May 7, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

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