President Obama continued his series of small tweaks to the broken system via executive order this week by asking agencies "to cut about $4 billion per year from the federal government's budget for travel, cellphones, conferences and 'swag' like agency-branded mugs and clothing." This sounds painfully modest. But, like everything else, not modest enough to keep major trade groups from raising hell in its wake.
Think no one will get upset if the government limits a bit of its tchotchke expenses? From The Hill:
"For the president to say that buying promotional products is a waste is extremely troubling and shows how little he knows about the industry," Matt Bertram, president of Fields Manufacturing, said in a statement. "This is again another example of our administration making quick decisions that will hurt small business."
Andrews said the $17 billion industry employs up to 500,000 workers in the United States, and that the government is a major customer. Andrews said the Census saved $85 million in 2010 by using promotional items to remind people to return forms.
And Tim Andrews of the Advertising Specialty Institute, "which represents the promotional products industry," says, "We certainly wouldn't want people to stop using promotional products, if they can be used efficiently and effectively, in a knee-jerk way and cost jobs."
He has a point! This is not exactly a budget balancer.
[Image of President Obama signing the executive order via AP]