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Feds still tied to last year’s budgets

John Dimsdale Jan 12, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: Chances are you won’t find many federal employees among the ranks of those free spending consumers Alisa was telling us about. Last year Congress didn’t pass spending bills for most of the government. Almost all, in fact. That means most of the bureaucracy is working from last year’s budgets. Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale reports people are starting to feel the pinch.

JOHN DIMSDALE: The Department of Justice warns it is running low on crime fighters. The FAA may not be hiring any more air traffic controllers. Meanwhile, salary increases, higher rents and inflation are eating away at the money available to run the government.

ROBERT REISCHAUER: For many nondefense, non-homeland security agencies, this has been a very tight time.

Robert Reischauer is president of the Urban Institute. He says tight budgets mean federal agencies start using what he calls the Washington Monument scare tactic.

REISCHAUER: They pick what are the most popular programs and suggest that any cut in budget resources will result in the reduction of services that are most popular with the American public. So, if you’re the Park Service, you say, well, you know, if we have a budget cut, that of course means that we won’t be able to keep the Washington Monument open on weekends.

But the good news is, no new spending means no new pork projects. And the deficit should decline.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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