President Obama holds his first full cabinet meeting today (without the still unconfirmed Kathleen Sebelius) to order spending cuts at each of the government agencies. The goal is to trim $100 million in the next 90 days, an impressive-sounding figure, but don’t be fooled: The cuts announced today amount to just one quarter of one percent of federal spending for fiscal year 2009.
Much of the announced cuts seem like no-brainers — mostly savings on travel, office equipment and redundancy. The Agriculture Department will move 1,500 employees from seven leased spaces into one facility by 2011, saving $62 million over a 15-year lease. The Education Department will trim $2 million by issuing most employees only one laptop computer, instead of also assigning them a desktop for their office. In a blow to the newspaper industry, the U.S. Attorneys and the U.S. Marshals Offices’ Asset Forfeiture program will stop publishing judicial forfeiture notices in print and will do so online only, saving $6.7 million over the first five years of the move.
But today’s cuts are just the first part of a process that’s expected to continue in the coming weeks, if Obama keeps to his announced intentions. During his Saturday radio/web address he said he will announce deeper cuts in the coming weeks leading to the elimination of “dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective.”