Obama taking page from Jerry Brown’s playbook?

President Obama this morning signed an executive order aimed at cutting waste and promoting more efficient spending across the federal government.

Specifically, the order directs agencies to reduce spending on travel; limits the number of information technology devices (cell phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops and so on) that can be issued to individual employees; stops unnecessary printing of documents that can be posted online; shrinks the executive fleet of the federal government; and stops using taxpayer dollars to buy swag — the plaques, clothing, and other unnecessary promotional items that agencies purchase. The administration estimates that spending in areas covered by the order will be reduced by 20 percent, saving billions.

Less travel, fewer cars and cell phones, no more swag – does this sound familiar, California? That could be because it seems Obama is taking a page from Gov. Jerry Brown’s playbook.

Brown earlier this year signed executive orders or issued directives cutting back on state workers’ cell phones; shrinking the state’s vehicle fleet; forbidding state spending on promotional swag; and restricting state workers’ travel, as well as imposing a hiring freeze.

“President Obama knows a good idea when he sees one,” Brown spokesman Gil Duran said this morning. “We’re glad to see that the federal government, like the State of California, is cutting waste and saving taxpayer dollars wherever possible.”

The Obama Administration says today’s order builds on progress already made through its “Campaign to Cut Waste.”

“At President Obama’s direction this Administration has taken up an unprecedented effort to downsize the federal real estate footprint, and is on track to save $3.5 billion in federal real estate costs by the end of Fiscal Year 2012,” the White House said. “The Administration has cracked down on waste in contracting, cutting contracting spending for the first time in more than a dozen years and slashing spending on ‘no bid contracts’ by $5 billion.”

The White House said Vice President Joe Biden in September convened the Cabinet’s first Campaign to Cut Waste meeting and asked the Cabinet to identify wasteful and inefficient spending on travel, executive fleet, publications, office equipment, and other areas, and that the president’s directive today builds on that work.

UPDATE @ 5:53 P.M.: In our story for tomorrow’s print editions, an Obama Administration official steers clear of crediting Brown.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Jen K

    Andrew Cuomo called for across the board spending cuts in NY w/in WEEKS of taking office. Why has Obama waited THREE YEARS to do this?!?!

  • Elwood

    Cell phones? Cars? Travel?

    Chump change.

    Cut entitlements. But wait, don’t the recipients vote dimmiecrat?

    We can’t do that!

  • quagmire

    wtf is an entitlement? i hope you’re not referring to SS and medicare. i pay for those programs with every payroll check. oh oh oh, you meant the retirement packages, health plans, and gobs of money that get thrown at even single term rep’s in congress receive.
    @elwood- you’re one of hose, “keep yer gov’t hands off my medicare” guys, aren’t you…… dumbass

  • You know as a “state worker” in the community college system, I’ve never had a school issued cell phone, I get one laptop computer every five years or so. As for “swag” my door “plaque” is a printout of my office hours on a card. If I want any polo shirts, t-shirts, etc, I buy them myself. That’s the way it has ALWAYS been for 30 years. What state employees get all those other perks? OIC, probably aids to members of the legislature, cabinet, executive branch. Certainly not the foot soldiers: teachers, police, fire, health officials, Cal-trans road workers.

    I think it’s right that those priviledged few are having to live like the rest of us, but don’t give the impression that ALL state workers get free travel, cell phones, etc. Because most of us DON’T and NEVER HAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • John W

    One idea that seems to be floating out there is to change the index used to calculate everything from cost of living adjustments for Social Security and government employee pay to tax bracket indexing. What I like about that is that it affects almost everybody but is also gradual with no sudden shock effect. It may not be enough to deal with the long-term debt but would be significant. Curtailing tax bracket indexing wouldn’t affect super-wealthy people who derive most income from capital gains and dividends, since those are currently taxed at a very low flat rate. Still have to find some way to deal with Medicaid and the portions of Medicare that are not covered by payroll taxes and premiums. As I recall, there were no automatic Social Security adjustments until LBJ, and no indexing of tax brackets until Reagan. Tax bracket indexing probably had a greater long-term impact on tax revenue than the rate cuts. I can remember being subjected to a 49% marginal rate at about $50k income before the Reagan cuts went into effect.

  • Elwood

    @ #3 Quagmire (an excellent description of the O’bummer administration)

    My you certainly do have a lot of anger, don’t you? Who knew that you were paying for all those entitlements?

    I could care less if Medicare and SS ended tomorrow.

    So who’s the dumbass now, dumbass?

  • John W

    Re: #3 and 6

    Unlike Elwood, I would care alot if Medicare and SS ended tomorrow. That said, it simply is not true that you have paid for Medicare. Contributed, yes. Paid for, no. According to something I read yesterday, the typical couple (not individual) going on Medicare this year will have contributed roughly $119,000 to Medicare and receive about $350,000 in benefits. At $50k gross wage income for an individual, the annual contribution, including employer share, would be only $1,450. So you can do the math. Those payroll taxes go exclusively to pay for Medicare Part A, the hospitalization program. In about 10 years (maybe less), the Part A trust fund will have been entirely paid back, and the program will have to rely entirely on payroll taxes, which will fall way short of costs, because of both demographics and the fact that health care costs rise faster than wages from which the payroll taxes come. Your Medicare Part B premium (doctor services) covers only 25% of Part B costs. General fund revenues pay the other 75%. Same thing for Part D (prescription drugs). If you’re in Medicare Advantage, the government subsidy is even higher.

  • Ohjeanne

    the Sacramento bee has a link that shows yearly wages of state employees.
    instead of typing in a name, use the drop down and select over $300,000.

    on a furloughed year look at all the ones who got $200,000 and way up, raises instead of cuts.


  • Susan Harnisch

    Fantastic! Everything counts, like every penny counts. This is how to rule!

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Re #9: I don’t save pennies, I give them to beggars.