Obama: Budget reform "not an option, it is an imperative"

In his second press conference in two days, the president-elect announced his nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget.

By Alex Koppelman
Published November 25, 2008 10:30PM (UTC)
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Following in the footsteps of the big rollout of his economic team on Monday, during a press conference today President-elect Barack Obama introduced his nominees to head the Office of Management and Budget and spoke of cuts he envisions for the federal budget.

Obama's pronouncements regarding the budget were the big news out of this press conference. Speaking of his plans for spending to boost the economy, Obama said, "[I]f we're going to make the investments we need, we must also be willing to shed the spending we don't. In these challenging times, when we are facing both rising deficits and a sinking economy, budget reform is not an option. It is an imperative. We cannot sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars ... We simply cannot afford it."


So far, Obama seems to be looking to cut waste, not benefits or other necessary spending. "This isn't about big government or small government. It's about building a smarter government that focuses on what works," Obama said, continuing:

We will go through our federal budget -- page by page, line by line -- eliminating those programs we don't need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way.

Let me give you one example of what I'm talking about. There's a report today that from 2003 to 2006, millionaire farmers received $49 million in crop subsidies even though they were earning more than the $2.5 million cutoff for such subsidies. If this is true, it is a prime example of the kind of waste I intend to end as President.

And we will also focus on one of the biggest, long-run challenges that our budget faces -- namely, the rising cost of health care in both the public and private sectors. This is not just a challenge but also an opportunity to improve the health care that Americans rely on and to bring down the costs that taxpayers, businesses, and families have to pay.

That is what the OMB will do in my administration -- it will not only help design a budget and manage its implementation, it will also help make sure that our government -- your government -- is more efficient and more effective at serving the American people.

Getting the OMB nods were Peter Orszag, who will be nominated to be the office's director, and Rob Nabors, who is slated to be deputy director. A veteran of the Clinton administration, Orszag is currently the head of the Congressional Budget Office; Nabors is staff director of the House Appropriations Committee.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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