The mood and direction of a president and his government, characterized by which office gets more money and whose programs are cut, are frequently found in small print deep in the budget.
President Bush wants to add $2 million to the cost of running his White House office, and spend almost all of it to hire 20 new permanent staff members. Those are people who would be coming on just in time for the presidential election season. The White House crowd, supported by a $35 million budget, is scheduled to grow from 381, estimated for this year, to 401 next year.
And although Bush has been criticized for ignoring domestic policy, one of the fastest growing groups among his White House advisers is the Office of Policy Development. Under the proposal, the office that advises the president and assists him in long-range economic and domestic policy would grow from 36 employees to 51, and see its budget increased 20 percent, to $3.7 million.
The Points of Light Foundation, which occupied an important part of Bush's State of the Union message, is looking to grow a little brighter thanks to federal money. Congress gave it $5 million for this year, although Bush originally asked for $25 million. For next year, the president is seeking $7.5 million for an "entity to make direct and consequential service aimed at serious social problems central to the life and work of every American."
Another tiny Bush operation on the fast track is the Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Environmental Quality. The two entities, which function under one budget line, will go from 15 employees in 1990 to 39 in 1992, according to the budget. The cost is going up 86 percent, to $2.7 million, in part because the council will provide staff support for the President's Commission on Environmental Quality. The new responsibilities also will apparently require a doubling of the group's "official reception" or party fund from $500 to $1,000, according to the budget proposal.
Another of the president's groups, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, is seeking a slight increase in its party budget and proposing to hire an additional 15 people at the same time it is cutting by $30 million the money allocated to other government agencies for combating high-intensity drug trafficking areas.
The Bush administration is carrying on a Reagan administration policy of making users of government activities pay fees to help cover the costs of those functions. Perhaps the best success story to date is found in the Patent and Trademark Office. Bolstered by a law passed during the 100th Congress, the Bush administration raised fees to a point where the Patent Office may be fully funded by those charges in 1992. In that year, fees from patent and trademark seekers are expected to total $462.5 million while costs are expected to be $462 million. It still, however, takes an average of close to 18 months to get a patent application completed and 13 months for a trademark.
Another measure of priorities can be seen in the programs approved for this year's budget and those that the Bush administration wants to drop next year.
In the Agriculture Department's extension service, 1992 increases are sought for water quality, youth-at-risk and food safety programs. The cutbacks would come in urban gardening, pest management, farm assistance and federal administration.
In the Health Resources and Service Administration of the Health and Human Services Department, the growth is proposed in a "targeted infant mortality program," health care for the homeless and minority health education. Reductions are found in programs of home health demonstration, native Hawaiian health care, health services outreach demonstration and health professionals.
Not everything is going up next year. The Commerce Department, for example, is cutting export administration funds by $2 million and eliminating 56 positions in export management "in light of the declining workload relating to export licensing activities."
One reduction should stick. Vice President Quayle's official residence budget, which went up in 1990 and 1991 because of major repairs, is scheduled to drop down to $324,000 next year from this year's $626,000. That's pretty close to the $258,000 it cost to run the place when the Bush family lived there.