Budget director previews cuts in Obama's 2012 plan

President Obama's budget director Jack Lew in a Sunday opinion piece outlined some off the “tough choices” Obama is willing to make to cut spending in his 2012 budget request due out on Feb. 14.

The piece details cuts that affect initiatives dear to the president: programs to help the poor and to clean up the Great Lakes near the president's home state of Illinois.

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The cuts are relatively small, however, in the larger scheme of things. In total, the $775 million in detailed cuts fall far short of demands by congressional Republicans and will do little toward tackling the deficit, which is estimated to be $1.5 trillion this year by the Congressional Budget Office. The cuts are in addition to a five-year spending freeze which the administration says will save $400 billion over the next decade.

Lew said that the Valentine's Day budget will proposed cutting in half community service block grants to grassroots groups in poor communities. This cut will save $350 million and this cut will affect the type of community programs Obama worked with as a local organizer, Lew noted in an opinion piece in Sunday's edition of The New York Times.

He said “this cut is not easy for” Obama.

Lew said that for the past 30 years, the grants have been flawed since they have not been allocated based on past performance. The program is to be reformed into a competitive grant program.


The administration will also propose cutting a quarter of the financing for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, saving $125 million.

A third cut is a reduction in the Community Development Block Grant program. The program provides financing for housing,infrastructure and economic development in poor neighborhoods.

Obama will propose cutting this program by 7.5 percent, or $300 million.

“These three examples alone, of course, represent only a small fraction of the scores of cuts the president had to choose, but they reflect the tough calls he had to make. And as he made them, his administration tried to make sure that there was no undue burden on any one program or area. We also asked agencies outside the freeze to do their part as well,” Lew wrote.