Update (12:05 p.m. EST): The president called his plan for a new agency to replace six current federal agencies a "big idea," and said he needed the "authority that every business owner has to make sure that his or her company keeps pace with the times," Jake Tapper reports at ABC. "I will only use this authority for reforms that result in more efficiency, better service, and a leaner government," the president said. Then he described his plan:
“Right now, there are six departments and agencies focused primarily on business and trade in the federal government,” the president said. “Six. In this case, six isn’t better than one. It’s redundant and inefficient. With the authority I am requesting today, we could consolidate them all into one department with one website, one phone number and one mission – helping American businesses succeed.”
The administration says the new agency will be smaller by some 2,000 employees than the six it will replace (the plan is to shed those jobs through attrition), and will save $3 billion over 10 years, Tapper reported.
Original: President Barack Obama wants to trim down the size of the federal government, and he's going to ask Congress on Friday to give him the power to do it quickly. In order to merge six federal trade agencies, Obama's going to ask for something called consolidation authority, which is a power last held by President Ronald Reagan. It means he'd have the authority to propose pretty sweeping reforms on government agencies, on which Congress would have to vote up or down within 90 days. We expect to learn more about the whole thing later this morning, when Obama is due to deliver an address at the White House outlining his plan for reorganizing parts of the government. But the Associated Press has the basics:
Should he prevail, Obama's first project would be to combine six major operations of the government that focus on business and trade.
They are: the Commerce Department's core business and trade functions; the Small Business Administration; the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; the Export-Import Bank; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; and the Trade and Development Agency. The goal would be one agency designed to help businesses thrive.
Follow Obama's remarks here via the White House live feed. He's due to start speaking at 11:20 a.m.: