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Brian M. Riedl, the Heritage Foundation’s chief budget analyst, said Mr. Obama knew his audience when he went after defense items.

“The president wisely proposed most of his cuts in defense, knowing that the Democratic Congress is going to give much more scrutiny to defense than nondefense programs, so it’s not surprising he had some success there. He was sailing with the wind,” Mr. Riedl said.

Mr. Bush’s list of proposed cuts for fiscal 2009 didn’t include any for the Defense Department, and the word “defense” didn’t appear once in the 194-page volume Mr. Bush released detailing waste and inefficiency.

Mr. Obama had the benefit of working with a Congress controlled by Democrats. Mr. Bush, in his most successful budget, for fiscal 2006, was working with fellow Republicans when he won 40 percent of his cuts, for roughly $6.5 billion. But he was working with that same Republican Congress the next year, when he won just $2 billion, or 15 percent of his proposed cuts.

Mr. Obama’s victories were offset by some defeats, including several programs to which Congress added money.

The president had asked Congress to stop inserting earmarks telling the Environmental Protection Agency where to build water infrastructure projects, which in 2009 totaled $145 million. Congress instead boosted the total to $157 million this year, according to the EPA.

Mr. Obama asked Congress to slash $26 million in funding for the Delta Health Initiative, arguing that the government ends up paying for equipment or facilities that should be financed by customers of private health clinics.

Instead, Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi Republican and ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, inserted an earmark that keeps the money flowing and raises the level an additional $9 million. Mr. Cochran said in his budget request that the money will help taxpayers by improving health services in one of the nation’s most impoverished regions.

Mr. Obama’s worst spending defeats, like his victories, came in defense programs.

The president had urged Congress to end funding for an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but Congress added $465 million to keep the program operating. Congress also added $2.5 billion to buy more C-17 cargo planes, which the Pentagon says are not needed.

Some of those programs could be on the chopping block again next month, when Mr. Obama is expected to submit his fiscal 2011 budget.