President bans swag
In an effort to cut federal spending, President Obama signed an executive order last week banning government employees from purchasing swag with taxpayer money. T-shirts, coffee mugs and other promotional items are now off-limits for federal agencies. In addition, the president is urging employees to use videoconferencing for some meetings instead of traveling.
These and other small spending cuts proposed by the administration could save up to $4 billion a year, says President Obama. But it’s another offensive move against the meetings industry in recent weeks. Other darts have come from Occupy Wall Street protestors upset over corporations’ influence on government. Last month, protestors demonstrated in Chicago during two financial association meetings, and in Newport Beach, Calif., a group of Occupiers crashed a California Bankers Association meeting chanting, “Make banks pay!” And despite officially retracting the charge in late October, the Justice Department’s Inspector General caused a media firestorm after claiming the department spent $16 on muffins at a 2009 conference.
The move by the president is part of a larger campaign to cut federal budgets and boost job creation. Meetings and events, which make up a $263 billion industry, employ 1.7 million people in the country. They generate $14 billion in federal tax income and $11 billion at the state and local level.