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Eye Opener: May 8, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Friday! Official Washington today continues to digest President Obama's proposed budget and it seems almost no one is impressed by the $17 billion in savings. As Dan Balz writes today, "By themselves, the proposals are too small to impress his critics but probably too large for Congress to swallow."

The president calls the cuts "real money," but you can play with our interactive graphic on this page and decide for yourself how big you think the savings are when compared to the entire federal budget.

Several Democratic lawmakers are unhappy with Obama's proposed cuts, according to The Post's Lori Montgomery and Amy Goldstein.

"The news releases began flying as Obama unveiled the long-awaited details of his $3.4 trillion spending plan, including a list of programs he wants to trim or eliminate. Though the proposed reductions represent just one-half of 1 percent of next year's budget, the swift protest was a precursor of the battle Obama will face within his own party to control spending and rein in a budget deficit projected to exceed $1.2 trillion next year."

Still, some programs will likely get the ax and you can read through them here.

Several of The Eye's Post colleagues and friendly competitors have budget details on border security, the Education Department, the Energy Department, Justice Department and NASA. Read other detailed agency-by-agency details here.

In spite of the detailed budget plans, the Obama administration has provided little additional details on how it picked its recommended 121 program cuts, reports Gov Exec's Elizabeth Newell.

"Asked whether the Obama team used the Bush administration's Program Assessment Rating Tool or something similar to identify inefficient programs, Director Peter R. Orszag said only that OMB is in the process of overhauling the performance metrics system."

Cabinet and Staff News: Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with the Russian foreign minister. The Senate approves deputy HHS secretary while the Kansas GOP is glad that Kathleen Sebelius is gone. Gary Locke visits Kansas City. Senators express support for Obama's FDA nominee. Gil Kerlikowske confirmed as drug czar. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) explains his opposition to Obama's FEMA nominee. Three DOD nominees confirmed. The U.S. ambassador to NATO confirmed. Will the head of the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety become head of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service? A neat Politico piece on the life of behind-the-scenes players. And Alberto Gonzales will attend the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner!

Today's Big Events: AFGE and the AFL-CIO today honor union official Andrea Brooks at AFL-CIO headquarters. She died April 26. Also -- the Committee on National Statistics and the American Academy of Political and Social Science co-host a joint symposium, "The Federal Statistical System: Recognizing its Contributions; Moving Forward." A long (maybe boring?) title but some important speakers: Census Bureau director nominee Robert Groves and former nominee frontrunner Kenneth Prewitt, who's soon expected to take an advisory position with the bureau. 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the National Academy of Sciences building,
2100 C St. NW. More events here.

In other news...

Now Available: Office Space in Minnesota: "A passerby recently snapped a shot of Norm Coleman's office in St. Paul, Minn., which, it seems, is on the market. A few days ago, Coleman's name was removed from the door, though the Senate office designation remained," The Post's Al Kamen reports.

Near-Empty Panel Takes On Hiring Practices: "Isn't it nice when members of a congressional panel go to great lengths to support their chairman?" Joe Davidson writes today. "Take the members of the Senate subcommittee on oversight of government management, the federal workforce and the District of Columbia, for example. Yesterday, as if to prove Chairman Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) correct when he said federal government recruitment is 'an important issue that often does not receive the attention it deserves,' no other senators were at the hearing on the subject."

Senate Passes Overhaul of Defense Procurement: "The 93 to 0 vote was a rare show of unity among lawmakers, provoked partly by voter worries about deficit spending and by a compromise between lawmakers and Obama administration officials on some parts of the legislation," reports The Post's Shailagh Murray and R. Jeffrey Smith.

Gates: Afghan-Bound U.S. Troops Outpacing Equipment: "Thousands of U.S. troops are being rushed to Afghanistan without the equipment they will need to fight an emboldened Taliban, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and military officials said Thursday," the AP reports. "The equipment delay is 'a considerable concern,' Gates said as he toured a dusty forward base in south Afghanistan where some 200 newly deployed Marines and sailors are arriving each day as part of the buildup of 21,000 new U.S. troops."

Katrina Victims Are Losing Temporary Housing: "Though more than 4,000 Louisiana homeowners have received rebuilding money only in the last six months, or are struggling with inadequate grants or no money at all, FEMA is intent on taking away their trailers by the end of May," reports Shaila Dewan of the New York Times. "The deadline, which ends temporary housing before permanent housing has replaced it, has become a stark example of recovery programs that seem almost to be working against one another."

Dulles Rail Project Gets $77M in Federal Money: Should help the commutes of thousands of federal workers! "The long-awaited extension of the Metrorail system is expected to help ease congestion in Tysons Corner and improve access to the region's busiest airport," reports The AP.

Gov't Faces Weekend Deadline on Polar Bears: The administration has to decide "whether it should allow government agencies to cite the federal Endangered Species Act, which protects the bear, for imposing limits on greenhouse gases from power plants, factories and automobiles even if the pollution occurs thousands of miles from where the polar bear lives," the AP reports.

FHA Seeks $800 Million to Cover Losses: Dina ElBoghdady reports that "Nonetheless, the agency's flagship home-buying program remains solid, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said yesterday. The requested money would cover projected losses on reverse mortgages, which enable seniors to take out equity in their homes. The loan and the accumulated interest do not have to be paid back until the owner dies or sells the home."

N.Y. Fed Chairman Resigns: "Stephen Friedman, a onetime chairman of Goldman and economic adviser to President George W. Bush, said in his resignation letter that his continued presence would be a 'distraction' for the central bank," reports The Post's Neil Irwin.

Poll Finds Uncle Sam's Popularity Up Among Job Seekers: "Between 2006 and 2009, the number of respondents who told Gallup they were considering federal employment rose from 24 percent to 40 percent," reports Gov Exec's Alyssa Rosenberg. "Those respondents said the quality of benefits, job security and work-life balance were the factors that most attracted them to federal jobs. But 71 percent said they were seeking a job that would enable them to make a difference, and 65 percent of respondents reported an interest in helping to fix the country's problems."

GAO Examines Federal IT Spending: Dave Powner, director of IT management issues at GAO, talks to Federal News Radio about its recent report.

Awesome: Riverside County, Calif. officials have to cut back on four-ply toilet paper due to budget constraints.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 8, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Comments

PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING, it seems, and the Obama White House has mastered the art of affecting consciousness in presenting the “budget cuts.”

http://pacificgatepost.blogspot.com/2009/05/obamas-aggressive-budget-cuts.html

Obama is completely squandering an opportunity for reform.

Posted by: JamesRaider | May 9, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

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