January 25th, 2010
07:55 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama wants to freeze discretionary spending for 3 years


Washington (CNN) - In a move that could help position him in the political center by sharpening his credentials on fiscal discipline, President Obama will announce in Wednesday's State of Union address that he's proposing to save $250 billion by freezing all non-security federal discretionary spending for three years, according to two senior administration officials.

Full coverage: State of the Union address

The senior officials said the budgets of the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs along with some international programs would be exempt from the spending freeze. "We are at war, and we're going to make sure our troops are funded adequately," said one of the senior officials.

The officials would not reveal the details of which specific domestic programs would be cut as they prepare to face major pushback from liberals in the president's own party because popular education and health spending could be on the chopping block. The details will be officially unveiled next Monday, when the president publicly releases his next budget blueprint for fiscal year 2011 (which starts October 1) and beyond.

"We've got to make some tough decisions," said the second senior official. "Everybody is not going to get what they want."

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soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    Here's an income-generating idea for our country:

    1. Reveal the names of all the Americans who have hidden money in Swiss bank accounts in an effort to avoid paying taxes.

    2. In addition to their names, include their political party affiliation.

    3. Collect those unpaid taxes.

    4. Put those monies towards funding the stimulus and/or paying down the deficit.

    January 25, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  2. Danny J

    Lemme get this straight:

    John McCain offered THIS EXACT SAME spending freeze. During the debates, Obama chastised him, saying: "It would be like performing delicate surgery with a chainsaw when you need a scalpel." What hypocrisy! Why didn't we just vote for McCain in the first place? we would have been a year ahead of where we are now.
    When you take too long to perform surgery, the patient ends up worse.

    January 25, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  3. Carlston

    Buy war bonds the next step eh?

    Grow your own veggies...recycle tires (wait cash for clunkers already showed a hatred for recycling)

    Good show, what will stop you from moving pork from one area to another?

    January 25, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. Scott B

    What do you tea party boneheads have to say now?

    January 25, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. richard hyytinen

    obama lies like a persian rug.

    January 25, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. David Doney

    We spent $1.40 for every dollar in tax revenue in 2008 and $1.90 in 2009. This is the tip of the iceberg, but he has to start somewhere.

    The bad news is these programs will have to get cut about 25% from current levels (not just frozen), defense about 60%, and Medicare and Social Security cost curves will have to get bent down significantly.

    Then we can reverse the Bush tax cuts and lift the cap on payroll taxes, which is presently 106,800. This will get us to a short-term sustainable budget deficit. In the long-run, its all about Medicare, as it eventually eats the entire federal tax base.

    January 25, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  7. felicia

    That's right everyone is not gonna get what they want.. President Obama has a country to run and he has to make the necessary tough decisions to get this country back on track.

    January 25, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  8. that one guy

    As a hardcore republican I will give obama some credit on trying to bring down the spending. Granted it dosnt go as far as I like it to be, but it is a start. Now just cut all the lame welfare programs and we will be good.

    January 25, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  9. AndyG

    A spending freeze in the middle of a recession and massive unemployment is complete insanity. Whoever is providing economic advice to this administration needs to be fired.

    January 25, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  10. Alan Smith

    I would think the confusing wars overseas are the definition of discretionary spending.

    January 25, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  11. D-Burg boy

    It's the entitlements and defense spending that are the problem. If the largest portions of the budget are exempt from critical review and adjustment, its just politics.

    January 25, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  12. Tune in to FOX for news

    Mmmmm, desperately grasping for ANYTHING that seems remotely appealing to anybody. Can't wait until Obama is out of office.

    January 25, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  13. Casey Nicholson

    Worst move he's made. I've been a supporter from day one, and this is the first time I've had buyer's remorse. I've defended President Obama through thick and thin, but I did so because I believe in the man that ran for President.....and that man certainly was NOT a Ronald Reagan style Republican. This is the very economic package that put us in the shape we're in, and it ASTOUNDS me that this President is making the EXACT same mistake as FDR in 1938, despite his having been warned by many economists that we need MORE federal spending, not less.

    January 25, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  14. everett

    "...sharping his credentials on fiscal displine..." Oh please!! How hypocritical can you get?

    January 25, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  15. Nick

    looks like someone got the message! Time for the Reds and Blues to come together.. Divided we will fall!

    January 25, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  16. Right Leaning Independent

    Well its about time!!!! Americans are tightening their belts while Washington has been on a spending spree!! I wish it did not take an entire year to figure out that strategy!

    January 25, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  17. lifelong democrat

    All the horses left the barn! Obama is a day LATE and a DOLLAR SHORT. He signed $787 billion PORKULUS BILL with 9,000 porks in it. Does he expect us to believe him now? I don't think Obama even knows how to balance his own checkbook!

    He should have use his veto power last year, but he didn't. WE KNEW the $787 Billion was a payout to corporations and special interest groups who donated heavily to his campaign and to the DNC. Deficit under Obama in 2009 is $1.4 TRILLION. Ohhhhhhhhh I am getting a migraine attack.

    Obama, you're the leader of OUR PARTY, let me blunt Mr. President, YOU'RE A LIAR, INCOMPETENT, NO GOOD PRESIDENT!

    January 25, 2010 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  18. Mandemus

    The citizens are upset, what does he do? Hires a campaign manager?

    I'm sorry but for the guy who let the democrats in congress spend like a kid in a candy store, to suddenly try to feign concern over spending levels is downright laughable.

    This is just all part of a quick re-branding process, where his media machine will attempt to pretend the economy and the deficit have been his #1 priority since day one. Sorry, but I'm smart enough to see though the charade.

    January 25, 2010 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  19. Linda

    Well, we have to start somewhere. I'll reserve final judgement until I see exactly what is being cut from which programs. I still have faith in our President!

    January 25, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  20. CAW in MD

    This is by far the stupidest idea I have heard come out of the Obama administration. Let's see, where have we heard this idea before? Oh yeah, George Bush, and every other innumerate Republican. Why would you try to find that kind of savings out of 1/6 of the budget? Why is the rest of the budget sacrosanct?

    Obama trying to out-Republican the Republicans won't make them work with him, and this is guaranteed to further alienate his base. If you want to do something bold, how about growing a pair and making the Republicans fllibuster something for real, like the jobs bill languishing in the Senate? That would be an interesting public relations move for the Republicans - "The way we want to help real people is to prevent the government from creating jobs for them."

    Drop this ridiculous idea and try again.

    January 25, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  21. lanetta

    I embrace this as a a start in the right direction towards fiscal responsibility. I support President Obama on this issue 100%. Discretionary Spending accounts for 1/6th of the budget and may not reduce the deficit will certainly stop the bleeding. Kudos!

    January 25, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  22. Dave C - NJ

    Why even bother asking for the GOP reaction? We all know what they did with the budget....they had their turn.

    The GOP is not going to "win big" in 2010 or any other year. We can still see through those callous fools.

    January 25, 2010 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  23. Dick

    Tremendous idea. How will the Republicans shoot this down? It's what they talk about and want so here it is!! The Republicans are in their "hate" mode and many of them will vote no just because the President suggested it. Republicans....grow up!

    January 25, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  24. Angry in Indiana

    By freezing discretionary spending at its current level of $447 billion Obama plans to save $250 billion over three years. So, that means the current plan is to grow it at 17% this year? Our elected officials have lost the plot.

    January 25, 2010 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  25. Brandi Crawford

    President Obama is doing more for this country than anyone has in a long time. I give you props Mr. President for at least trying to make this country a better place!!!!

    Brandi Port Charlotte, FL

    January 25, 2010 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
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