As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Did We Forget We're In A Recession?

I guess people are having a bit of fun with President Obama's $17 billion in trims in his FY2010 budget, with cuts to 121 programs. I wonder why we're doing this now. Not all of it - certainly the Education Department doesn't need an attaché in Paris. But didn't we pass a massive stimulus package just a few months ago? Maybe it's a symptom of the "green shoots" talk about the economy that we're deciding to reduce government spending at a time when overall demand still falls short.

I recognize the desire to at least make a nod to fiscal responsbility - and reading this background briefing, the cuts make a lot of sense.

Let me give you a few examples of things that we are terminating or reducing. First, LRNC, which stands for long-range radio navigation system. It's a system that is now made obsolete by the prevalence of GPS. It's not used, it's unnecessary, it costs us $35 million a year, and we perpetuate it just through inertia. We are proposing that we eliminate the LRNC navigation system.

Abandoned mine land payments. We continue to make payments to states to clean up abandoned mines even after those states have completed the task of cleaning up the mines. So we are no longer going to be -- or we are proposing that we no longer pay states to clean up mines that have already been cleaned up. That saves $142 million [...]

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation costs $1 million a year. It has an overhead rate of about 80 percent, so about 20 percent of that million-dollar appropriation -- or only 20 percent, I should say -- is actually paid out in fellowships and awards. That's obviously inefficient and we are proposing that that appropriation be eliminated.

All fine. I don't necessarily want my tax dollars wasted. And yet, anything in here that produces a job means that a job will be lost. And someone else will get on unemployment. And they'll spend less. And so on.

Anyway, you can see the whole budget here, and an explanation of the trims here.

...Obama made some remarks on this today, and maybe this part works:

But these savings, large and small, add up. The 121 budget cuts we are announcing today will save taxpayers nearly $17 billion next year alone. That’s a lot of money, even by Washington standards. To put this in perspective, this is more than enough savings to pay for a $2,500 tuition tax credit for millions of students as well as a larger Pell Grant – with enough money left over to pay for everything we do to protect the National Parks.

And this is just one aspect of the budget reforms and savings we are seeking.

Maybe if we actually put the money to use that way, I could live with this.

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