With much fanfare, President Barack Obama rolled out his intentions to cut $17 billion from the federal budget on May 7. But despite the spinmeisters, not everyone was buying it.
"The White House today played up its proposed cuts to the federal budget," ABC "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said on his May 7 broadcast. "That budget plays up to $3.6 trillion. The White House wants to trim a tiny fraction - $17 billion. The president, arguing that seemingly small amount is a step in the right direction."
And that's exactly what ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper emphasized during his report on the budget cuts.
"President Obama today spotlighted 121 programs he seeks to cut from his budget, saving $17 billion," Tapper said.
But, Tapper wasn't buying the premise that the $17 billion in cuts were a major accomplishment. In fact, he pointed out that President Barack Obama wasn't impressed with a similar dollar amount eight months ago at the height of the presidential campaign.
"Of the president's $3.6-trillion budget, the proposed $17 billion in cuts amount to a reduction of less than one-half of 1 percent," Tapper said. "On the campaign trail last year, then-Sen. Obama seemed to belittle the impact of his opponent's call to cut earmarks - $18 billion worth."
And Tapper's right. Obama said on Oct. 15, 2008 during the presidential debate against his Republican counterpart Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. that earmarks weren't "going to solve the problem."
"Now, Sen. McCain talks a lot about earmarks," Obama said. "That's one of the centerpieces of his campaign. Earmarks account for one-half of 1 percent of the total federal budget. There's no doubt that the system needs reform and there are a lot of screwy things that we end up spending money on, and they need to be eliminated. But it's not going to solve the problem."
"The White House said today the $17 billion in cuts was just a start," Tapper said.
"Let's do this - let's you and I walk down on the street today," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. "Let's interview maybe a dozen people and ask them whether they think $17 billion is a lot of money."
So that's what Tapper did. Before putting the $17 billion in context of the entire budget people thought it was a lot of money. But after he explained that is part of a $3.6 trillion budget, those he interviewed on camera, weren't impressed.