White House not telling what programs will be cut

Correction: The White House did release the list of programs recommended for reduction or termination in the fiscal 2009 budget request sent to Congress Feb. 4: http://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/omb/budget/fy2009/summarytables.html. An Office of Management and Budget spokesman originally said it would take another week before the administration would release the list. We apologize for the confusion.

President Bush announced during the State of the Union address that the administration would reduce or cancel 151 programs worth $17 billion, but there isn't a complete list ready for the public despite the fiscal 2009 budget request going to Congress today.

Office of Management and Budget Director Jim Nussle said many of the programs the administration wants to reduce or cut are different from last year’s suggestions.

“When we find one that isn't [working], we make a determination whether it ought to be reduced or eliminated,” Nussle said during a press briefing in Washington. “And that list continues to be updated every single year. So some of these may be ones that have been recycled from last year, but many of them are new ones that we continue to take a look at throughout the rest of the year.”

But OMB has yet to put out the exact list and may not do it until next week, said Sean Kevelighan, an OMB spokesman.

“It is a matter of spending taxpayer’s money effectively,” he said after the briefing. “We look at individual programs and if they meet their intent and align with the agency’s priorities, then they are funded. There are choices we have to make if the program is not working effectively.”

President Bush announced the elimination or reduction in programs during his State of the Union speech. In all, the administration believes reducing or cutting these programs would save more than $17 billion.

Nussle said the administration has had success in previous years in cutting programs. In 2008, OMB proposed cutting or reducing 141 programs and Congress did so to 29 of them. In 2006, Congress and the administration eliminated 89 other programs and overall the government saved more than $10 billion, Nussle said.

“Now, these are programs that are frankly just not achieving the results that they need to achieve,” Nussle said. “And I think good intentions are not [enough] to justify a program. We need to focus on the outcomes, not just the inputs.”

Nussle added that he expects agency nonsecurity discretionary spending to remain flat over the next four years. This year the White House raised that type of spending by 0.3 percent, or just $1.3 billion.

“We need to do more to keep spending in check in order to balance the budget by 2012 and address the longer-term spending challenges,” he said.
Bush also asked for $70 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as a stopgap measure and Nussle said he would ask for more money after Gen. David Petraeus delivers his report in March about the status of the wars.



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