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Pro-con on Obama's budget cuts

budgetcut2President Obama has released the details of his fiscal 2010 budget, most of which had been widely known since February, but he did add a proposal to kill or cut 121 federal programs for a savings of $17 billion. The president insisted it was not "chump change," but like his request of his Cabinet to find $100 million in administrative savings, this one was ridiculed by critics as too small to make a difference — less than half of 1 percent of planned federal spending. Though these cuts are small in the totality of the budget, they have great symbolic importance as a test of Obama's determination to fight for them and a test of his seriousness in tackling the federal deficit. Indeed, many of the targeted spending cuts were culled from a list of 151 projects that President Bush had tried to kill or cut. But over time the Republican-run Congress came to believe that it could ignore that president's fitful attempts at fiscal discipline. In the totality of the federal budget, $17 billion really is chump change, but, chump or not, facing a fiscal 2010 budget deficit that could reach $1.5 trillion, the president and Congress have to start somewhere. — Scripps Howard News Service editorial

They call this restraint? President Obama proposed cutting $17 billion from the federal budget — barely one half of 1 percent. All while spending $3.4 trillion. Pain? Restraint? Indeed, such cuts are like your average Joe or Jane, on a $50,000-a-year salary, trimming all of $5 a week. Or as Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., put it, "taking a little teaspoon of water out of the ocean while you're dumping a whole river in." Obama's paltry slices, by the way, come after his fiscal watchdogs supposedly scoured the budget "line by line" to find inefficiency and waste. And spending-addicted Democrats may well consider even these negligible trims too much: Many were lifted from those President Bush sought — and didn't get — last year. And don't think there'd be any serious drop in federal spending, anyway: The budget blueprint recently adopted by Congress actually hikes domestic discretionary spending by 9 percent. Most troubling, though, is the spike in the federal deficit — which will soar to a whopping $1.38 trillion in the next fiscal year alone. "There is a lot of money that's being spent inefficiently, ineffectively and, in some cases, in ways that are actually pretty stunning," Obama said Thursday. Yes, there sure is. Too bad he and his budgeteers were able to find so little of it. — New York Post editorial