The Corner

Obama’s Math Problem

The president will release the details of his budget today. Remember that the document released in February was called “A New Era of Responsibility.” Well, with this document Obama explains what he means by this title, and that is: spend $3.4 trillion and propose $17 billion in cuts. The Washington Post isn’t impressed:

President Obama has said for weeks that his staff is scouring the federal budget, “line by line,” for savings. Today, they will release the results: a plan to trim 121 programs by $17 billion, a tiny fraction of next year’s $3.4 trillion budget.

Some of the proposed cuts are:

a $35 million-a-year long-range radio navigation system that officials said has been made obsolete by Global Positioning System devices; a Department of Education attache based in Paris that costs $632,000 per year; and a $142 million program that officials said continues to pay states to clean up abandoned mines even though that task has been completed.

Add to the list a $400 million program that reimburses states and localities for holding suspected criminals who turn out to be in the country illegally and $66 million for Even Start, a program to promote literacy for young children and their parents. Both these programs have been proven ineffective. And by the way, these programs were targeted for elimination by the previous administration as part of a longer list of program cuts.

The plan is less ambitious than the hit list former president George W. Bush produced last year, targeting 151 programs for $34 billion in savings. And like most of the cuts Bush sought, congressional sources and independent budget analysts yesterday predicted that Obama’s, too, would be a tough sell.

In other words, don’t count on these proposed cuts to ever become actual cuts.

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