President Obama wants the federal government to do some belt-tightening during tough economic times. On Tuesday he signed an executive order directing agencies to cut back on everything from travel to cellphones, printing, and even promotional or commemorative items such as T-shirts, plaques and mugs.
Each executive-branch agency has a month and a half to identify areas to slash expenditures by 20 percent below fiscal 2010 levels, which will produce what the White House estimates will be $4 billion in annual cost savings.
“At a time when families have had to cut back, have had to make some tough decisions about getting rid of things that they don’t need in order to make the investments that they do, we thought that it was entirely appropriate for our governments and our agencies to try to root out waste, large and small, in a systematic way,” he said
But don’t expect the Oval Office to start cutting back on the official White House M&Ms on Air Force One or curtailing pricey presidential travel.
Mr. Obama is traveling to Hawaii on Friday to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which aims to advance trade and other U.S. economic ties to the region, and then will move on to Australia to promote the two countries’ longstanding alliance. He will end his travel in Bali at another summit, this one aimed at boosting security and anti-terrorism initiatives with Pacific Rim nations.
Air Force One will be flying an estimated 50 hours in 10 days, from Washington to San Diego to Honolulu to Canberra, Australia, to Darwin, Australia, to Bali, Indonesia, and then back to Washington. The 50 hours of flight time, multiplied by the $181,000 per hour to operate Air Force One, amounts to more than $9 million, not including the cost of staff time for those traveling with him.
After the announcement, during a briefing with reporters about Mr. Obama’s trip, White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked whether the president planned to trim some fat from his travel schedule because he has asked others to do so. Mr. Carney shot down any such notion.
“The president makes trips as part of his capacity as commander in chief and president of the United States. There are no plans to [change his travel],” Mr. Carney said.
Read more here.