On this day in 2009, President Barack Obama ordered his Cabinet to collectively find ways to cut federal spending by $100 million. The pledge came three months into his first term.
The cuts would come from making government programs more efficient and would be on top of future cuts to programs that are ineffective. It amounted to less then one-two hundredth of one percent of the projected deficit for this fiscal year at that time and even Obama admitted that the potential savings would be a “drop in the bucket.”
“None of these things alone are going to make a difference. But cumulatively, they make an extraordinary difference because they start setting a tone … $100 million there, $100 million here – pretty soon, even here in Washington, it adds up to real money,” the president told reporters at the time.
The play on Everett Dirksen’s famous quote did little to alleviate concerns. Was $100 million actually saved? Who knows? Who cares for that matter? The budget deficit for this year is still pushing against $1 trillion and the national debt is at $16.8 trillion.
After years of irresponsible budgets passed by a Republican-controlled congresses, Obama’s pledge at the time seemed out of touch and exacerbated an already tense situation. While both the president and Congress have been forced to cut deals since then to prevent defaulting on our debt or shutting the government down, that distrust and belief that either truly are willing to make real sacrifices to bring our fiscal house in order is still there.