Will budget cuts make a difference?

Jill Barshay Apr 20, 2009
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Will budget cuts make a difference?

Jill Barshay Apr 20, 2009
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Kai Ryssdal: On the topic of the government spending money, President Obama is looking for ways to save. He convened his first formal cabinet meeting today. Belt tightening was agenda item one. Department heads were told to look for ways to cut $100 million out of the federal budget in the next 90 days. On the theory that every last penny counts, everything from office supplies to offices are on the table. Jill Barshay reports.


JILL BARSHAY: The Homeland Security Department says it can save $3 million by firing consultants who create new logos. And the Veterans Affairs Department says it can save almost 18 million by canceling conferences and using video instead.

But all together, $100 million is just a drop in the $3 trillion budget.

DIANE Lim Rogers: And you can think of that as equivalent to about 15 minutes out of an entire year’s worth of spending that the federal government does.

That’s Diane Lim Rogers. She’s the chief economist at the Concord Coalition, a non-partisan group for balancing the budget. Lim Rogers says to really get anywhere we’re going to have to cut programs or raise taxes to reduce the deficit.

Paul Light is a professor at New York University. He says most of today’s cuts should have been done long ago.

PAUL Light: Obama would be taking a dramatic step forward if he asked the federal government to restructure itself as we’re doing with General Motors and some of the banks. The federal government is long overdue for a major scrub down. And you could save billions upon billions if you just restructured the federal government to eliminate duplication and overlap.

Both Light and Lim Rogers say the jury’s out on whether Obama’s $100 million cut is the first of many to come or a trivial public relations campaign.

I’m Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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