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Bush to Pursue Spending Cuts President’s Budget To Pare Energy, Job Training Spending

By Jonathan Peterson and Richard Simon
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

The Bush administration will send Congress a budget Monday that would scale back a broad range of domestic programs -- including workforce training, renewable energy and health care access -- that have grown rapidly in recent years.

The proposed cuts are expected to fuel a growing dispute over President Bush’s spending priorities at a time of widespread concern over energy shortages and an economic downturn.

“When the administration is talking about an energy crisis, we should be greatly increasing -- not cutting -- the funding for these kinds of programs,” said Dan Reicher, a Clinton administration energy official.

Bush is expected to recommend cutting programs for dislocated workers next year by some $200 million, or 12 percent; cutting certain energy-efficiency and renewable-energy programs by about $180 million, or 15 percent; and shifting some responsibility from Washington to the states for enforcing federal pollution control laws.

The proposed cutbacks are needed to offset the costs of a large tax cut and spending increases in certain areas of the budget such as defense, education and medical research, according to budget experts.

Overall, Bush is proposing about $12 billion in domestic spending cuts. That represents nearly 4 percent of the part of the budget that, unlike such benefit programs as Social Security, must be approved annually by Congress.

“There are going to be a lot more cuts than people are anticipating,” said Stanley E. Collender, a budget consultant with the public relations firm of Fleishman Hillard.

White House officials say they seek moderate growth in overall spending, while weeding out programs they consider wasteful or obsolete. The pursuit of that aim is crystallizing a conflict between advocates and opponents of activist government.

“There’s been an explosion in discretionary spending in the past three years, which is not sustainable,” said Chris Ullman, spokesman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, speaking about the president’s overall spending plan.