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Is there any chance that the deficit spending crisis will be averted?

*AP, by Andrew Taylor, May 7, 2009

“Obama seeks hike in domestic spending

In twin strokes, President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to award generous budget increases to domestic programs while proposing relatively modest cuts to wasteful or obsolete programs that just won’t seem to die.

Officials said Wednesday that Obama’s promised line-by-line scrub of the federal budget had produced a roster of 121 budget cuts totaling $17 billion — or about one-half of 1 percent of the $3.4 trillion budget Congress has approved for next year. The details were being unveiled Thursday.

White House budget director Peter Orszag said the president’s plan for program cuts is just a start and that a lot more needs to be done to dig the government out of its fiscal hole, especially curbing the growth of the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs for the elderly and the poor.

‘But $17 billion a year is not chump change by anyone’s accounting,’ he said.

Those savings are far exceeded by a phone-book-sized volume detailing Obama’s generous increases for domestic programs that will accompany the call for cuts. And instead of devoting the savings to defray record deficits, the White House is funneling them back into other programs.

Most of the major elements of Obama’s budget for next year were released in February. Additional details were coming out Thursday and next week.

The roster of cuts won’t be easy for Congress to swallow. Lawmakers from the potent California, New York and Florida delegations are sure to fight the elimination of the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which gives money to states to help defray the cost of incarcerating illegal immigrants who commit crimes. President George W. Bush tried and failed to kill the $400 million program several times.

In fact, some of the cuts, like terminating production of C-17 cargo aircraft and phasing out direct payments to farmers with sales exceeding $500,000 annually, have already been rejected by Obama’s allies in Congress.”

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