Obama Makes Plans to Shrink Gov't Size

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WASHINGTON - It's a charge often heard from conservatives -- the federal government is too big.

Now, the same message is being repeated by Democrats.

President Barack Obama asked Congress Friday for the authority to reorganize the government in an effort save money and shrink its size.

The White House said government bureaucracy has grown to be onerous and outdated.

"Landlines have turned into smartphones. The Cold War has given way to globalization. So much has happened, and yet the government we have today is largely the government we had back then," Obama explained.

Click play for John Jessup's report followed by comments from Seton Motley of LessGovernment.org.

His first idea is to merge six major trade and commerce agencies.

"We could consolidate them all into one department with one website, one phone number and one mission: helping American businesses succeed," he said.

The administration believes that move could save taxpayers $3 billion over 10 years by cutting redundant costs.

The move would also slice the federal workforce, eliminating between 1,000-2,000 jobs.

But before anything can happen, Congress must approve the president's plan.

"With or without Congress, I'm going to keep at it. But it'd be a lot easier if Congress helped," Obama said.

The president is trying to make good on an issue he raised in last year's State of the Union address.

He will likely try to use his plan again on the campaign trail -- making the case that he's worked to downsize government.

However, critics say that argument doesn't add up when stacked against Obama's record.

"After three years in the White House presiding over the largest expansion of government in generations, the timing of this announcement and the failure to consult Congress raise questions about the president's commitment to a real reorganization and reduction in the size of the federal government," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement.

While Republicans and Democrats may share the same goal, there's no sign that cooperation will replace the ever-present partisan gridlock.

*Originally aired on January 13, 2012. 

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