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Obama Touts Government Fiscal Reforms

For the second consecutive week, U.S. President Barack Obama has used his weekly address to encourage fiscal discipline in the federal government, and outline his plans to eliminate waste and increase efficiency.

Mr. Obama said he told secretaries and department heads, in the first full cabinet meeting of his presidency, on Monday, to cut what does not work.

"Already we have identified substantial savings, and in the days and weeks ahead, we will continue going through the budget, line by line, and we will identify more than 100 programs that will be cut or eliminated," he said.

Next, the president said he will ask government workers for their ideas on improving government performance.

"We will look for ideas from the bottom up. After all, Americans across the country know that the best ideas often come from workers, not just management."

Mr. Obama also plans to seek money-saving ideas from private industry, and to hold a forum later this year on reforming government.

Opposition Republicans have said Mr. Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan and his $3.5 trillion budget proposal are too expensive.

This week, however, the Republican address focused on energy policy.

Senator Lamar Alexander said the country should build 100 nuclear power plants, to help break its reliance on fossil fuels.

"We say, find more American energy and use less--energy that is as clean as possible, as reliable as possible, and at as low a cost as possible. And one place to start is with 100 more nuclear power plants," he said.

Senator Alexander said while the U.S. gets only 20 percent of its power from nuclear energy, France has shown the way in using nuclear power.

"Thirty years ago, the contrary French became reliant on nuclear power when others would not. Today, nuclear plants provide 80 percent of their electricity. They even sell electricity to Germany, whose politicians built windmills and solar panels, and promised not to build nuclear plants," he added

Alexander said the Obama administration's proposed subsidies for solar, wind and agricultural energy development will not make much difference, since those forms of energy provide less than two percent of America's electricity.

The Tennessee senator also wants more exploration for offshore oil and natural gas, and more conservation and efficiency in electricity use.