Monday, November 20, 2017

Obama seeks more power to streamline government

RECOMMENDED READING


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday announced an aggressive campaign to shrink the size of the federal government, calling on lawmakers to grant him broad new powers to propose mergers of agencies, which Congress would then have to approve or reject in an up-or-down vote.

If granted the authority, he said, he would begin by folding the Small Business Administration and five other trade and business agencies into a single agency that would replace the Commerce Department.

The White House estimated that the consolidation would save $3 billion over 10 years and result in reductions of 1,000 to 2,000 jobs. The savings is a mere rounding error in the $3.7 trillion annual budget, but the numbers may be less important than the message that Obama wants to cut wasteful spending.

"No business or nonprofit leader would allow this kind of duplication or unnecessary complexity in their operations," Obama said to an audience of small business owners at the White House. "You wouldn't do it when you're thinking about your businesses, so why it is okay for our government? It's not."

It is not clear whether Congress, where much of Obama's legislative agenda has languished, will go along with this initiative. Republicans were immediately skeptical, suggesting that the White House was more interested in honing its re-election message than in reducing the size of government.

Even Democratic leaders expressed misgivings about folding the Office of the United States Trade Representative, a stand-alone agency with just 277 employees, into a large bureaucracy, saying it could harm U.S. trade policy.

Under the terms of the reorganization, five agencies — the Small Business Administration, the United States Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Trade and Development Agency, plus the business and trade functions of the Commerce Department — would be consolidated into a single agency.

Obama said he would elevate the director of the Small Business Administration, now Karen Mills, to his Cabinet. The U.S. trade representative would retain Cabinet rank, the White House said.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said streamlining the government was a laudable goal. "We hope the president isn't simply proposing new packaging for the same burdensome approach," said the spokesman, Brendan Buck.

Comments
A Border Patrol agent is dead in Texas, but the circumstances remain murky

A Border Patrol agent is dead in Texas, but the circumstances remain murky

VAN HORN, Texas — Along the shoulder of Interstate 10, where drug runners sometimes hide in drainage culverts, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez came to a stop late Saturday and got out of his vehicle.Martinez scrambled down an embankment thr...
Updated: 6 minutes ago

St. Petersburg council passes living wage ordinance

ST. PETERSBURG — An ordinance requiring certain city contractors to pay workers a minimum of $12 an hour was approved by City Council members Thursday with some amendments. The living wage ordinance applies to businesses with major city contracts pro...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bill Clinton visits Puerto Rico, distributes relief supplies

Bill Clinton visits Puerto Rico, distributes relief supplies

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is visiting Puerto Rico and meeting with those left homeless after Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory as a Category 4 storm
Updated: 1 hour ago
Flames ride hot Gaudreau, beat Capitals

Flames ride hot Gaudreau, beat Capitals

WASHINGTON — Johnny Gaudreau would rather talk about anything other than his offensive production. He’s just making it impossible to avoid. Gaudreau had a goal and an assist to extend his career-best point streak to 10 games and lead the Flames to a ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Cavs roll over Pistons, close in on Central lead

Cavs roll over Pistons, close in on Central lead

DETROIT — An emphatic win over a first-place opponent had LeBron James and the Cavaliers talking confidently again. "We haven’t had a win like that in a very long time," James said. "That’s what happens when we don’t let up." James scored 16 of his 1...
Updated: 1 hour ago
NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

Before he crashed, Roy Halladay flew within 75 feet of houses and skimmed the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a report published Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board.The report, which did not address the cause of the crash, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ah, just in time for the Thanksgiving travel season, Florida has once again achieved national prominence. We’re No. 1 — with a body bag! Can’t you feel the pride swelling?A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Asian shares advance as Wall Street regains ground

Asian shares advance as Wall Street regains ground

Shares higher in Asia after Wall Street regains lost ground
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nation’s highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBoxingWelterweights: Alexander vs. Castillo7:30 p.m.FS1College basketballMaui Invitational semifinal1:30 p.m.ESPNLegends Classic third-place game3:30 p.m.ESPNUMaui Invitational consolation game4 p.m.ESPN2Legends Classic final6 p.m.ESPN2George Ma...
Updated: 1 hour ago