Obama ‘can’t wait’ for 8 minutes worth of spending cuts

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama today said he “can’t wait” for Congress to cut travel spending by federal employees, so he’s ordering a 20 percent cut by himself.

But he will only have to wait eight minutes for the myriad of government workers to spend every last dime of those weekly travel savings.

The federal government spends roughly $15 billion a year on travel, according to estimates prepared by Sen. Tom Coburn, the conservative Oklahoma Republican.

A 20 percent cut in travel would save the federal government $3 billion a year, or $58 million a week.

But $3 billion is being spent every eight minutes by the rest of the federal government.

Obama’s signing ceremony began at 11.41 and ended at 11.47. Include a few moments walking to and from the Oval Office, and the data shows that deputies spent the savings while he was signing the budget directive.

The “can’t wait” theme is part of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and it is intended to portray the president as active and helpful, while the GOP as self-serving obstacles to progress.

However, Obama’s announcement pre-empts a bill drafted by Coburn that would slash federal travel spending by 75 percent, or $12 billion per year.

Coburn’s bill, the “Federal Workforce Reduction and Reform Act of 2011,” can’t move in the face of solid opposition from the Democratic majority in the Senate. There’s no sign the president will endorse Coburn’s bill, or ask his former colleagues in the Senate to support the bill.

Today’s executive order also directs cuts to federal spending on information-technology services, on conferences and on the trinkets and souvenirs handed out by government agencies.

In February, Obama asked Congress to spend $3.73 trillion in the 2012 budget year, starting October 2011.

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