Washington, D.C. The brickbats were flying even before President Barack Obama convened his first official Cabinet meeting Monday. At the session, Obama ordered his agency heads to identify and shave a collective $100 million in administrative costs from federal programs from a budget of well over $3 trillion.
“At the same time they’re looking for millions in savings, the president’s budget calls for adding trillions to the debt,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “The nation’s debt is at its highest level ever, but under the administration’s budget, the amount of public debt will double in five years and triple in 10.”
Framed by members of his Cabinet, the president himself acknowledged that the goal amounts to a drop in the bucket. “It is, and that’s what I just said,” he told reporters. “None of these things alone are going to make a difference. But cumulatively they make an extraordinary difference because they start setting a tone. And so what we are going to do is, line by line, page by page, $100 million there, $100 million here, pretty soon even in Washington, it adds up to real money.”
In a frenetic first three months in office, Obama has seen his $787 billion economic stimulus plan enacted and the outlines of his $3.5 trillion budget passed, while overseeing hundreds of billions of dollars in outlays to stabilize the nation’s teetering financial system and its imploding housing market.