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Obama Orders US Government Budget Cuts

President Barack Obama said he will order the heads of U.S. government agencies to make plans to cut their budgets. Both the president and an opposition Republican lawmaker used their weekly media addresses to criticize excessive government spending.

President Obama says the current course of government spending is unsustainable.

"And this Monday, in my first full cabinet meeting, I will ask all my department and agency heads for specific proposals for cutting their budgets," he said.

The president said the economic crisis has forced his administration to make investments that will expand the nation's deficit and debt. But he wants to cut government programs that do not work.

"In the coming weeks, I will be announcing the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it is time their government did the same," he added.

Mr. Obama said his administration needs to restore Americans' confidence that their government is spending their money wisely.

"That starts with the painstaking work of examining every program, every entitlement, every dollar of government spending and asking ourselves, 'Is this program really essential? Are taxpayers getting their money's worth? Can we accomplish our goals more efficiently or effectively some other way,'" he said.

Republicans have steadily criticized Mr. Obama's spending, especially his $787 billion economic stimulus plan and his proposed $3.6 trillion budget.

In the Republican address, Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California asked when all the spending and borrowing will end.

"It is irresponsible to borrow more than all previous American presidents combined. And it must stop if we want to get our economy moving again," he said.

Mr. Obama said his Cabinet officials, specifically Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, are already cutting spending. He also praised Republican Senator John McCain, whom he defeated in last year's presidential election, and Democratic Senator Carl Levin, for leading the effort in Congress to reduce wasteful government spending.