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Is $100M Much Of A Budget Cut? Ask Obama

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Imagine you were shopping for a $50,000 car, and the dealer offered to slash the price by a dollar? Would you be bowled over? Scramble for your checkbook? Leap to sign the sales agreement?

Probably not. That's why there's cynicism as President Obama announced he directed the members of his Cabinet today to come up with $100-million in spending cuts in 90 days.

Considering his budget this year calls for over $3.9-trillion in spending, $100-million is the same percentage of reduction as taking a buck off the price of a $50,000 car.

And Mr. Obama didn't take issue with a reporter's assertion that the spending cuts he wants are just a drop in a bucket.

"None of these things alone are going to make a difference," he said. "But cumulatively they would make an extraordinary difference because they start setting a tone."

He borrowed a phrase made famous by one of his predecessors as senator from Illinois, Everett Dirksen, asserting that more spending cuts would be found.

"$100 million there, $100 million here, pretty soon, even in Washington, it adds up to real money," the president insisted.

But it'll take a lot more than a token $100-million to trim the deficits which his budget office projects will total nearly $7-trillion over nine years.

So reporters wanted to know why Mr. Obama wasn't telling his Cabinet to come up with far deeper spending cuts, questions that left spokesman Robert Gibbs a bit apoplectic.

"Only in Washington, D.C. is a $100-million not a lot of money. It is where I'm from and it is for hundreds of millions of Americans."

Gibbs said the deficits will have to be trimmed in bits and pieces and he challenged reporters to suggest one item that could get rid of a $1.3-trillion deficit in one fell swoop.

Point understood. But Mr. Obama's call for trimming the budget by $100-million amounts to a fiscal benefit of .002 percent of this year's federal spending plan.

Watch video of Mr. Obama's remarks below:


(CBS)
Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.
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