From $4 million for an agriculture biotechnology program to $18 million for foreign-language assistance for small elementary and secondary schools and $489 million for congressionally earmarked Environmental Protection Agency projects, President Bush's fiscal 2006 budget plan calls for elimination of or drastic cuts in 154 programs.
The cuts would amount to $15.3 billion in savings over the fiscal 2005 budget as enacted by Congress, according to the administration. In addition, the president proposed major changes in 16 programs that his budget says would result in an additional $4.7 billion in gross savings.
The president's entire fiscal 2006 budget, not including a supplemental request for military costs related to Iraq and Afghanistan, amounts to $2.57 trillion.
In a 233-page document detailing the program terminations, cuts and other money-saving proposals, the administration said it was guided by three principles: "Does the program meet the nation's priorities"? Is it an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars? And does it "produce the intended results"?
For instance, the Agricultural Marketing Service's biotech program, which Bush proposes to cut by $4 million, was started in 2002 to develop its ability to test non-grain commodities for bioengineered traits. The program was to establish a fee for service to accredit private labs to perform the test. Bush wants to kill the program "due to a lack of demand for these services among the private sector."
In another case, the administration proposed scrapping $476 million in congressional earmarks for specific projects and locations through the Health Resources and Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services. The administration said Congress directed that amount to more than 900 hospitals, universities and other institutions that did not have to go through the agency's merit-based awards basis.
For the U.S. Postal Service, which generally does not get taxpayer dollars for its operations, the administration proposes to stop reimbursing it, as required by law, for lost revenue attributable to legislatively mandated reduced mail rates. Congress in 1994 had authorized $1.2 billion to repay the USPS in $29 million increments. Bush proposes to end the $29 million appropriation because "USPS is now benefiting from pension savings of approximately $3 billion per year" as a result of other legislation to re-estimate its pension costs.
The president's budget plan also claims credit for $99 million in savings as the difference between what the U.S. Institute of Peace got for fiscal 2005 toward construction of a new headquarters on the Mall and the zero amount Bush proposed for fiscal 2006.
His budget-cut report notes that the administration's proposed fiscal 2006 budget does not include more money because the earlier appropriation was intended to be a one-time payment and the institute is also raising private funds.
The accompanying chart details the president's 154 terminations and major budget cuts. Some of the education programs were consolidated in the report.
-- Judy Sarasohn