Already this year, some Republicans have begun to suggest that Obama ought to be willing to take cuts in the White House budget, to demonstrate to the country his commitment to reducing the deficit. The Washington Post’s Ben Pershing writes that the presidential teleprompter and maintenance of the executive residence have both come under fire.
In February, Rep. Steve Womack (Ark.) proposed, but later withdrew, an amendment to the 2011 spending bill that would have eliminated funding for Obama’s teleprompter.
“We’re asking people to do more with less,” the freshman told Fox News at the time. “And I think the president ought to lead by example. He is already a very gifted speaker. And I think that’s one platform he could do without.”
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (Tex.) offered a separate amendment that would have prohibited the use of money “for repair, alteration, or improvement of the Executive Residence at the White House.” Had it passed, as one member pointed out during floor debate, the amendment would have blocked the White House maintenance staff from “addressing their leaky plumbing” and installing a backup electricity feed.
But not all lawmakers, or even all members of the GOP, agree that taking a stand on such issues would be prudent. Many seem to feel there are bigger battles to be fought and more substantive budgetary negotiations on which to focus their political capital. In fact, such amendments have been referred to as “stupid,” “silly and “petty” by members of both parties.
Still, the current draft of next month’s annual appropriations bill includes a $66 million cut in funding to the EOP compared to this year.
This debate has been ongoing for years, even decades — Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton are among previous presidents to face criticism for White House-related expenditures. One side seems to think such appropriations represent a drop in the bucket and therefore see bickering over them as a distraction from the true work of governing. But others think in tough times, the president should set an example for the country by tightening his own belt and that of the office he runs.
Keep in mind, any changes made to the White House budget now will affect the next president, who could be from either party.
Do you think the White House’s budget should be cut?
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