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Obama Proposes $17 Billion in Budget Cuts

U.S. President Barack Obama is proposing modest cuts in government spending to help offset major investments in health-care, education and energy initiatives.

The president says all the programs being eliminated or reduced are wasteful or unnecessary.

"We can no longer afford to spend as if deficits do not matter and waste is not our problem," said President Obama. "We can no longer afford to leave the hard choices for the next budget, the next administration, or the next generation."

First round of cuts is modest

The first round of cuts is modest, $17 billion out of the president's $3.55-trillion budget proposal for 2010. But Mr. Obama makes clear they are an important start.

"At this moment, at this difficult time for our nation, we cannot accept business as usual," said Mr. Obama. "We cannot accept anything less than a government ready to meet the challenges of our time."

Some unnecessary defense programs will be cut

The list of cuts being sent to Congress for approval includes a long-range radio navigation system rendered obsolete by satellite technology, and an early education program that has yielded poor results. About half the cuts will come in unnecessary defense programs, including weapons systems not needed for 21st century warfare.

The president says all these cuts will help bring the deficit down, and will free up money to fund budget priorities.

Republicans: budget cuts will have little impact

But Republicans in Congress say they will have little if any impact. Judd Gregg is the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.

"It is as if this was the Gobi Desert or the Sahara Desert, and you came along and took a few pieces of sand off the desert," said Senator Gregg.

Gregg says the cuts are not nearly enough to offset the huge cost of new initiatives requested by the president.

"While you are taking these few dollars out, which I congratulate the president for trying to do, they are adding back in massive amounts of spending," he said.

Congress has already approved the broad outlines of the president's budget proposal for 2010. But the hard work lies ahead as lawmakers negotiate details - agency by agency, and program by program - before the government's new fiscal year begins October 1.