Obama: End the swag

J. Arthur Bloom Deputy Editor
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In an effort to combat a $1.3 trillion budget deficit — in the 37th straight month of budget deficits — and as the congressional super committee frantically scrambles to make an agreement to avert $1.2 trillion in cuts, the president is banning coffee mugs and t-shirts.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Wednesday to cut waste and save the government money by asking federal agencies to cut their schwag budgets by 20 percent. The effect on the nation’s ongoing fiscal woes is expected to be negligible.

The White House has said the executive order “directs agencies to stop wasting taxpayer money on non-essential items used for promotional purposes, such as clothing, mugs, and non-work related gadgets.”

“We’re cutting what we don’t need so that we can invest in what we do need,” Obama said in a statement.

In addition to the ban on promotional items, the directive instructs federal agencies to slash on unnecessary travel, reduce the number of cell phones and laptops issued to employees and cut down on the executive vehicle fleet. All these measures were bundled into one executive order, which the president touted before the cameras in a signing ceremony.

Earlier this fall, the Department of Justice inspector general released a highly-publicized report of exorbitant expenditures at government conferences, including the now infamous $16 muffin. The inspector general’s office has since walked back their initial allegations about the muffins, but maintained their concerns over exorbitant expenditures. Some of the report’s other expenditures include a $47-per-person lunch at the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force’s National Conference, $5.57 sodas and cups of coffee for $8.24.

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