President Obama will ask Congress today for greater power to shrink the federal government and his first request is merging six trade and commerce agencies whose overlapping programs can be confusing to businesses, according to the White House.“The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater.  And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked, ” President Obama said.

The six agencies are: the Commerce Department’s core business and trade function; 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.

An administration official said that from 1,000 to 2,000 jobs would be cut, but it would be done through attrition as people routinely leave their jobs over time.  The merger would also save $3 billion over 10 years by getting rid of duplicative overhead costs, human resources divisions, and programs, the official said.

 The President will call on Congress to give him the power to reorganize, a type of power which was  last held when  President Ronald Reagan was in office. The Obama version would be a so-called consolidation authority allowing him to propose mergers that promise to save money and help consumers.  The deal would entitle him to an up-or-down vote from Congress in 90 days.