Obama budget eliminates or trims 121 programs

President Obama's formal fiscal 2010 budget submission targets 121 federal programs for cuts, senior administration officials announced late Wednesday.

Savings from the reductions will total $17 billion in fiscal 2010, and will continue to accumulate in later years, officials added. About half the gains will come from trimming defense programs, and almost $12 billion will come from discretionary spending.

Many of the programs on the list will come as little surprise. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced most of the Pentagon cuts in early April, for instance. But about 80 of the 121 programs were not previously mentioned by the Obama administration, or targeted by earlier administrations as candidates for the chopping block, a senior official said.

For each of the terminations, reductions and savings proposals identified in the volume, the Office of Management and Budget has included footnotes referencing studies from organizations such as the Government Accountability Office with evidence the programs were not working.

In conducting the "line-by-line review" the president ordered, the administration focused on outcomes, not intentions, one senior official said. As a result, the administration proposed eliminating some programs designed to meet the president's priorities, because they have not achieved results. For example, the volume recommends the termination of the Even Start early childhood education program, also targeted for cuts under the Bush administration. A senior official said a variety of studies have shown that children and families in the Even Start program performed no differently from those not in the program in 38 out of 41 measured outcomes.

Administration officials expressed optimism the proposed cuts would be well-received by Congress.

"There will be some struggles," one official said. "There are very few programs in the federal budget that don't have a constituency and someone who is willing to stand up for them in Congress. We understand that, but there is an overriding national need here, and we intend to meet that responsibility."

Anticipating criticism that $17 billion in cuts is dwarfed by the $787 billion being spent on the economic stimulus package, officials called the savings "to anyone's accounting, a significant amount of money," and noted that the figure did not include savings from proposed health care reforms.

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