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Obama Tells Cabinet to Cut Spending

U.S. President Barack Obama has instructed his Cabinet to cut $100 million in federal spending during the next 90 days, a largely symbolic move designed to draw attention to cost cutting in Washington.

The president says Americans need to have confidence that the government is spending their tax dollars wisely.

"One of the things that everybody here is mindful of is that as we move forward dealing with this extraordinary economic crisis, we also have a deficit, a confidence gap when it comes to the American people. And we've got to earn their trust," Mr. Obama said.

The president spoke at the end of his first formal meeting with all of the members of his Cabinet - except for Health and Human Services Secretary-designee Kathleen Sebelius who is awaiting Senate confirmation.

Mr. Obama highlighted steps that already have been taken to save money - from consolidating facilities at the Department of Agriculture to a shifting from business trips to video conferencing at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"There are a host of efficiencies that can be gained without increasing our personnel or our budget, but rather decreasing the amount of money that's spent on unnecessary things in order to fund some of the critical initiatives that we've all talked about," said Mr. Obama.

The president told the heads of departments and agencies that he wants them to trim $100 million in operating costs during the next 90 days. And he stressed that ineffective programs will be cut in the weeks and months ahead.

He acknowledged $100 million may not seem like much, given the trillions of dollars the federal government spends annually. But he said it is an important start.

"None of these savings by themselves are going to solve our long-term fiscal problems. But taken together, they can make a difference and they send a signal that we are serious about changing how government operates," said Mr. Obama.

But Mr. Obama's critics point out that the $100 million in cost cutting is miniscule - just a tiny fraction of one percent of the federal budget deficit.

Last week, they organized protests around the country on tax day - the deadline for Americans to report their annual income and pay any taxes due.

The top Republican in the House of Representatives, John Boehner of Ohio, says these protesters held a message for the president.

"They are really concerned about the amount of spending that is going on in Washington and the amount of debt that is being piled up," said Boehner.

Boehner appeared Sunday on the ABC television program This Week.