The proposed law, the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010, would give the White House a minimum of two months to review spending bills that have been signed into law, with the goal of eliminating excess pork-barrel projects, and other questionable items.
The president’s proposed cuts would then be sent to Congress for an up or down vote.
The new spending cut proposal would apply to the $1 trillion-plus in Cabinet agency budgets passed by Congress each year. Programs like farm subsidies and Medicare wouldn’t be threatened; neither would special interest tax breaks.
White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said that while the new presidential power would not be a panacea for the government’s spending excesses, it would “add to the arsenal of tools” available to reduce spending.
In a teleconference with reporters Monday, he said the legislation was crafted to avoid constitutional hurdles. Past efforts “gave the knife to the president” to make the cuts, he said, while the Obama administration’s bill would give it back to Congress to make the final decision on cuts.
Senate Democrats filibustered a similar idea when introduced by President Bush in 1996, after the House approved the measure.
Already, some of the Congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle are weighing in on the latest proposal.
The top two Democrats in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, stopped short of endorsing the president’s initiative. “We look forward to reviewing the president’s proposal and working together to do what’s right for our nation’s fiscal health and security, now and in the future,” Pelosi said.
House Minority Leader John Boehner said in a statement Monday that while Republicans are pleased the president was sending the legislation to Congress, “this is no substitute for a real budget that reins in overall federal spending.”
House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt, D-S.C., said he would formally introduce the bill later this week. He welcomed the Obama proposal “as a step forward on the path to fiscal responsibility,” adding that Congress would look at it carefully and “see what changes we may want to make.”
Orzag says that Wednesday one of his deputies, Dr. Jeffrey Liebman, Acting Deputy Director of OMB, is expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee as it considers the President’s bill, and others introduced by Members of Congress, designed to give the President varying degrees of line-item veto authority.
He went on to tell reporters that the White House plans to push hard for this bill, suggesting that the unusually large number of similar measures now pending is a sign that Congress may be in the right mood to consider a line-item veto.
Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this story.
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