Obama Calls for Merging Trade, Commerce Agencies

Posted January 13th, 2012 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is set to ask Congress to allow him to merge the country's sprawling foreign trade and commerce agencies to speed the government's transactions with businesses and consumers.

A senior government official told news agencies Friday that Mr. Obama would lay out his plans in a White House speech. The official said the U.S. leader would ask Congress to give him the power to reshape and shrink federal agencies to his liking. His first proposal would combine six agencies that deal with the nation's economy, the world's largest.

The White House said merging the agencies could streamline government services, as well as cut 1,000 to 2,000 jobs as workers routinely retire or leave their jobs and save $3 billion over the next decade. With many American voters saying the national government has grown too large and spends too much, the merger proposal could prove politically popular for Mr. Obama as he faces a contentious re-election contest in November.

But opposition Republicans in Congress have often rebuffed his ideas and it is far from certain that they will give him the new government reorganization authority or approve his business agency merger plan. The Democratic president first broached the idea nearly a year ago in his State of the Union address to Congress.

Under Mr. Obama's plan, the Commerce Department's business and trade functions would be merged with agencies dealing with small businesses, overseas trade, the financing of exports and imports, private overseas investment and trade and development.