How President Obama Learned to Stop Worrying and Live with the Sequester

| May 28 2013

How President Obama Learned to Stop Worrying and Live with the Sequester

A little more than a month ago White House Press Secretary Jay Carney warned against “piecemeal fixes” to the sequester, insisting that it was a situation that could not be “finessed.” Yet the Federal Aviation Administration, along with Vice President Joe Biden’s office, meat inspectors—and now the National Park Service—managed to find a few ways to do some finessing and carry on with business. And now it seems that President Obama has finally accepted the fact that the 3 percent cut in federal spending (that’s what the sequester amounts to, in case you forgot) is here to stay.

 

LIVING WITH THE SEQUESTER

“President Barack Obama Has Stopped Worrying And Learned To Live With Sequestration.” (Hans Nichols and Mike Dorning, ”Obama Accepting Sequestration as Deficit Shrinks,” Bloomberg, 5/28/13)

Bloomberg: “Gone are the cold February predictions of mass layoffs, family upheaval and the prospect of a new recession because of the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts. Cabinet secretaries no longer visit the White House briefing room to offer dire forecasts about teacher firings or unsecured borders.” (Hans Nichols and Mike Dorning, ”Obama Accepting Sequestration as Deficit Shrinks,” Bloomberg, 5/28/13)

FLASHBACK: Carney: “The Sequester Itself Cannot Be Finessed.” “President Obama plans to sign legislation eliminating FAA furloughs causing flight delays, but the administration is firmly against piecemeal fixes to other impacts of sequester cuts, press secretary Jay Carney said Friday. ‘This is a one-off case, if you will,’ he said, adding ‘the sequester itself cannot be finessed. It is having negative consequences around the country.’” (Donavan Slack, “W.H. Warns Against Piecemeal Sequester Fixes,” POLITICO, 4/26/13)

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA NOT THE ONLY ONE “LEARNING TO LIVE” WITH BUDGET CUTS

Washington Post: National Park Service Finds Alternative Ways To Meet Savings Targets Under Sequester: “The U.S. Park Police, the only federal law enforcement agency to be furloughed under the sequester, received some positive news last week when it was revealed that its furloughs would end on June 1. The National Park Service announced that the agency had found alternative ways to meet its savings targets.” (Josh Hicks, “Sequester’s toll on summer tourism, The Washington Post, 5/28/13)

Senate Unanimously Approves Measure To Give The FAA Flexibility To Make Smarter Cuts. “Many lawmakers had already left Washington for a coming weeklong recess when the Senate unanimously approved a measure to give the Transportation Department, which administers the Federal Aviation Administration, more budget flexibility to reduce the number of FAA furloughs. Under the bill, the FAA would be able to redirect up to $253 million from other areas of its budget to shore up staffing and operations.” (Kristina Peterson and Jack Nicas, “Senate Passes Bill To Ease Air-Travel Delays,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/26/13)

Joe Biden’s Office Avoids Furloughs, Pay Cuts; Found Other Ways To Make Budget Cuts. “Like most of the federal government, the office of the vice president is subject to across the board spending cuts, but an administration official tells me Biden’s office has been able to do what the FAA – and president’s own staff – have been unable to do: make the required spending cuts without furloughing any employees. The VP’s office, I am told, is not furloughing anybody and not requiring any staff to take pay cuts. They have found other ways to make the required budget cuts. The VP’s office won’t say how they have made the cuts.” (Jonathan Karl, “Sheriff Joe Biden Avoids Furloughs,” ABC News, 4/23/13)

Meat Inspectors Avoided Furloughs In A “Special Step” From Congress. “Congress approved $55 million on Thursday to prevent the furlough of all U.S. meat inspectors this summer, a step that could have driven up meat prices and created spot shortages in grocery stores and restaurants. … In a special step, lawmakers shifted $55 million in Agriculture Department funding so that its food safety agency would have enough money to keep its 8,400 inspectors on the job.” (Charles Abbott, “US meat inspector furloughs avoided as Congress approves funding,” Reuters, 3/21/13)

Pentagon Able To Cut Furlough Days In Half: “Declaring he had no choice, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday the Pentagon will furlough most of its 800,000 civilian employees for 11 days this summer beginning on July 8 to help pay for budget cuts under sequestration. The Pentagon had originally planned for 22 days of furloughs, then last month cut the number down to 14. Hagel vowed to continue to try to find savings in hopes of cutting even further, but made no promises.” (Stephanie Gaskell, “Pentagon furloughs planned at 11 days,” POLITICO, 5/14/13)

 

A TONE SHIFT AT THE WHITE HOUSE AS SEQUESTER MOVES FORWARD

Sequestration Takes A Back Seat To Other Issues: “Obama is painting a picture in speeches of a resilient economy that’s poised for robust growth. … Still, when the president now brings up the possible effects of sequestration, it’s usually a few brief lines at a private fundraiser or in a speech dedicated to another topic.” (Hans Nichols and Mike Dorning, ”Obama Accepting Sequestration as Deficit Shrinks,” Bloomberg, 5/28/13)

The Hill: “Here Comes Sequester: Part 2”  (Erik Wasson, “Here Comes Sequester: Part 2,” The Hill, 5/22/13)

 

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