After a year of interminable feuds with congressional Republicans who made smaller, cheaper federal government a political crusade, President Obama on Friday signaled his intention to do some sail-trimming of his own.

Obama asked Congress for the authority to consolidate the roles of several federal agencies which he said would lead to streamlined services and a smaller government workforce.

The proposal comes at a politically opportune moment for the president, who has faced sustained Republican criticism that his administration has failed to tame a bloated federal bureaucracy.

With an eye squarely on his reelection campaign, Obama announced that he would initially focus on merging sprawling entities that deal with small businesses in a bid to save $3 billion by eliminating more than 1,000 jobs over the next decade.

Almost a year ago, Obama promised in his State of the Union address to create a leaner, more efficient federal bureaucracy. Since then, Republicans — both on Capitol Hill and in the presidential campaign — have charged that the administration’s health-care, environmental and financial reforms have added layers of red tape and costs at the worse possible time.

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