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To build a new foundation for economic growth and change for the future, we can't afford to waste taxpayer dollars. That's why the president is taking on the No. 1 driver of our deficit, spiraling health care costs, this year. Make no mistake: Getting health care costs under control is the key to our fiscal future. And we need to reform health care in a way that will slow cost growth both for the federal government and for families.

But the centrality of health care to our budget outlook doesn't mean that we should shrug our shoulders at other areas of savings. Just like broken windows have been shown to increase crime, perpetuating inefficient programs undermines confidence in government and is a poor use of taxpayers' money.

That's why the president has put forward a budget that cuts the deficit in half by the end of his first term. It's why he has launched a reform of government contracting that will save $40 billion, personally called on Congress to pass "paygo" (pay as you go) legislation so that it pays for any new proposals, and directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to go line-by-line through the budget to examine which programs are working well and which ones aren't.

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Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.
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