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U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he arrives back at the White House on January 4, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today, the president will ask for power from Congress to slim down a number of government agencies. - 

Jeremy Hobson: President Obama will outline new plans to shrink government. He's going to ask Congress to give him the authority to merge departments and agencies, starting with a consolidation plan for six government offices involving trade and commerce.

Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale reports.

John Dimsdale: The White House says it can save three billion dollars over ten years by combining related agencies like the U.S. Trade Representative and the Export Import Bank and the Small Business Administration.

But New York University government professor Paul Light says every government office has powerful political supporters.

Paul Light: All these agencies are owned by congressional committees and subcommittees and its difficult to do without some sort of expedited authority that provides an up and down vote.

The president will ask Congress to commit to vote on his government reorganization proposals within 90 days after he sends them to Capitol Hill. Light figures there could be $100 to $150 billion in savings from eliminating duplication and bureaucracy across the government. Light says the president's request for authority will be a challenge to Republicans, who say they favor leaner government.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.