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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More than $3.5 billion in stimulus funds going to programs that Obama wants to eliminate or trim

The president's budget released this month recommends getting rid of Army Corps of Engineers' drinking-water projects, which got $200 million in stimulus funds, and a U.S. Department of Agriculture flood-prevention program, which received $290 million from the stimulus, a USA TODAY review of stimulus spending reports show.

The administration's budget plan says the corps and USDA programs are inefficient and duplicate similar, more effective work by other agencies. The proposed cuts indicate the programs shouldn't have gotten money from the $862 billion stimulus package, said Tom Schatz of the non-partisan budget watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste.

"It's certainly inconsistent, and it would have been better to have this realization a year ago," Schatz said. "But if inconsistency means they're going to cut the programs, it's OK. It's the other way around that bothers us."

White House budget office spokesman Thomas Gavin said the administration wasn't being inconsistent. Unlike the annual spending bills, the corps and USDA programs in the stimulus law didn't mandate funding for specific projects selected by members of Congress, Gavin said in an e-mail. That allowed agencies to "invest (stimulus) funds where they can do the greatest good," Gavin said.

The stimulus law, however, requires the corps' stimulus money to be spent only on projects that Congress had previously approved for funding.

Obama's proposed budget also includes $334 million in cuts to programs that got more than $3 billion in stimulus money. They include:  (continue reading here at USA Today)

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