WASHINGTON - President Bush challenged lawmakers Friday to eliminate or reduce spending for 154 federal programs, offering a long list of what the administration sees as duplications, failures and inefficiencies.
With a document detailing the administration's rationale for each proposed cut, the White House fleshed out Bush's State of the Union promise to curb government spending and reduce budget deficits that have been forecast.
Many of the items listed are not widely known, very small projects inserted by lawmakers to benefit their districts.
The president asked lawmakers to eliminate programs worth $4.3 billion from education, $1 billion from health and $1.5 billion from law enforcement.
Reductions include cuts totaling $2.5 billion from agriculture, $690 million from health and $470 million from housing.
In all, the targeted programs include 99 that the White House wants to eliminate, for a total of $8.8 billion in savings. The president wants to clip an additional $6.5 billion from the budget by cutting spending on 55 programs.
More than half of the identified programs had been flagged for cuts or elimination in previous years.
Last year, the president asked Congress to eliminate 130 federal programs. Four were terminated.
A few examples of the new recommendations:
- End the Small Business Administration's $15 million micro-loan program because it costs taxpayers yearly $1 for each $1 lent.
- Eliminate $496 million in educational technology state grants to free more money for higher priority programs that focus on student achievement and show clearer results.
- Cut half of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and move the program closer to self-reliance.
- Cut one-third of the Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Payment Program because an assessment determined there was no demonstrated need for the program.
- Eliminate the National Drug Intelligence Center because it duplicates programs run by a new, multi-agency Drug Intelligence Fusion Center.
The administration said it paid special attention to overlapping programs that serve the same purpose. By streamlining those programs, the White House suggests the government can save $1.9 billion.
Some changes identify programs that the administration sees as better served by private companies and organizations.
"When the federal government focuses on its priorities and limits its claims on resources taken from the private sector, that helps sustain a stronger, more productive economy," the report said.
The list of 154 proposed cuts came from the one-third of federal spending reviewed and directed by Congress every year. That does not include such programs as Social Security and Medicare.
The president additionally asked lawmakers to review the Pentagon's budget and also to consider trimming the vast portion of federal spending that increases automatically each year, such as agriculture payments.