First it was President Obama, the bearer of economic stimulus gifts. Now it’s Obama the budget-cutter.
As part of his budget request for the next fiscal year, the President has proposed terminating or trimming back 121 federal programs, which officials say would save an estimated $16.7 billion in 2010. By ENR's estimate, $1.5 billion of the terminations and reductions, outlined by administration officials on May 6, are in construction programs at agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy and Transportation departments. The administration also is proposing to reduce the federal subsidy for the terrorism risk insurance program.
It will be up to Congress to determine whether the proposed program cuts, and the rest of the President's $3.55-trillion fiscal 2010 budget, will be approved.
The largest proposed construction-related program cut is Health and Human Services Dept. aid for public- and private-sector health care facilities and construction, which receives $310 million in 2009.
At the Dept. of Transportation, the plan would delete $161 million in earmarked "surface transportation priorities."
Also proposed to be zeroed out are $145 million in Environmental Protection Agency water infrastructure earmarks. OMB says that the 2010 budget plan would provide a large boost for clean water and drinking water state revolving funds that finance those types of projects.
Moreover, the administration proposes to trim what it terms an "excessive" federal subsidy for the terrorism risk insurance program, starting in 2011.
That proposal isn't included in the $16.7 billion total estimated saving, because it wouldn't take effect until 2011.
Obama said that some of the programs on the rescission list "may have made sense in the past--but are no longer needed in the present. Other programs never made any sense; the end result of a special interest's successful lobbying campaign. Still other programs perform functions that can be conducted more efficiently, or are already carried out more effectively elsewhere in the government."
The top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, congratulated Obama for his proposed cuts, but Gregg said that the total reduction is less than 0.5% of the total federal budget this year. He also said that about 40% of the items on Obama's rescission list had been proposed by President Bush and rejected by Congress.