Commission's work informs president's cost-cutting plans

Obama calls for five-year annual domestic spending freeze

President Barack Obama highlighted the across-the-board spending cuts recommended by the bipartisan fiscal commission in his State of the Union address, but emphasized that he didn't agree with all of the commission’s proposals.

The White House led-National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform made a number of suggestions at the end of last year on how to reduce government spending, including a three-year freeze on federal salaries, scaling back the federal workforce by 10 percent -- about 200,000 employees -- and reforming federal workforce retirement programs. Obama signed a two-year pay freeze, but so far has not backed any of the other recommendations.

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Obama pledged to freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years in the speech on Jan. 25 and said this would  require “painful cuts.”

“Already we’ve frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years,” Obama said. “The secretary of defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.”

Obama also said reducing annual domestic spending, which accounts for a little more than 12 percent of the budget, won’t be enough.

“The bipartisan fiscal commission I created last year made this crystal clear,” he said. “I don’t agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it – in domestic spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.”

House Republicans have introduced legislation to put in place many of the fiscal commission’s recommendations, including the workforce cuts. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) has proposed requiring federal civilian employees take a nonconsecutive two-week furlough in 2012. Obama has so far not expressed support for any of those proposals.

About the Author

Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.

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