Obama’s Sequester Bluster Was All Hype

| May 30 2013

As The World Turns

Months after dire warnings from the White House, the sequester spending cuts have been left in place, and the world is still turning. But some things never change: The federal government is still growing, taking in record revenue and still wasting billions of it on duplication and inefficiency.  And instead of rooting out the waste, Washington seems intent on maintaining the status quo by making cuts as visible as possible.

 

AFTER DIRE WARNINGS ON SEQUESTER, SOME LEFT SCRATCHING THEIR HEADS

Washington Post: “Region Feeling Little Pain So Far From Sequester’s Bite.” “In the months since the automatic federal spending cuts known as the sequestertook effect, the Washington area has added 40,000 jobs. Income-tax receiptshave surged in Virginia, beating expectations. Few government contractors have laid off workers. It’s too early to be certain, but initial indications are that the damage from the sequester has been modest and slow to develop.” (Jim Tankersley, “Sequester Not Biting District Yet,” The Washington Post, 5/29/13)

The Washington Post: “Why Hasn’t Austerity Been More Of A Drag On The U.S. Economy?” “[T]he directevidence that tighter fiscal policy is damaging growth is scarce, so far atleast; study the internal details of major economic reports, and even if you squint you don’t see a lot of concrete evidence of the squeeze.” (Neil Irwin, “Why hasn’t austerity been more of a drag on the U.S. economy?,” The Washington Post, 5/28/13)

“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)

President Of The American Federation For Government Employees (AFGE): “I Don’t Think Anyone Will Think Much About It.”“[S]ome say closing down may not be such a disaster for the public. ‘Unless something dramatic occurs such as the Great Lakes catching fire, I don’t think the public will think much about it . . . unfortunately,’ said John O’Grady, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, which represents EPAemployees.” (Lisa Rein, “Three big federal agencies to close Friday, The Washington Post, 5/23/13)

AFGE Official: “In The Overall Scheme Of Things, The Impact Will Be Small.” “’We could have done better customer service and provided employees with more flexibility to choose all of their days off,’ said Carolyn Federoff, an attorney and AFGE official at HUD’s Boston office. ‘But in the overall scheme of things, the impact will be small.’” (Lisa Rein, “Three big federal agencies to close Friday, The Washington Post, 5/23/13) 

 

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE: DESPITE PANIC, WASHINGTON CONTINUES BUSINESS AS USUAL, WASTING BILLIONS

Government Is Still Growing…

The Washington Times: “Sequester Is Fed Speak For Now Hiring; Government Posts 27,000 High-Paying Job Openings.”(Luke Rosiak, “Sequester is fed speak for Now Hiring; government posts 27,000 high-paying job openings,” The Washington Times, 5/27/13)

Sequester Doesn’t Stop Federal Government From Hiring: “The budget cuts known as sequestration were supposed to wreak havoc, forcing the shrinking of critical workforces including airport security officers and food inspectors. But since sequestration kicked in March 4, the government has posted openings for 4,300 federal job titles to hire some 10,300 people.” (Luke Rosiak, “Sequester is fed speak for Now Hiring; government posts 27,000 high-paying job openings,” The Washington Times, 5/27/13)

Government Posts 27,000 High-Paying Job Openings.”“The median position has a salary topping out at $76,000, and one-fourth of positions pay $113,000 or more, according to an analysis by The Washington Times of federal job listings. Altogether, the jobs will pay up to $792 million per year. Including job postings that have been open since before sequestration, the government is in the market for 27,000 employees who will make up to $1.8 billion a year.” (Luke Rosiak, “Sequester is fed speak for Now Hiring; government posts 27,000 high-paying job openings,” The Washington Times, 5/27/13)

Taking In Record Revenues…

Record Revenues: Federal Government Projected To Collect Most Revenue In History In 2013.“The federal government is projected to collect more revenue in 2013 than ever before, astatistic Republicans are touting to make the case that the government has a spending problem, not a taxing one. … Both the CBO and the White House estimate the government will collect around $2.7 trillion in 2013, up from around $2.45 trillion last year.” (Bernie Becker, “Fed’s 2013 tax haul will be biggest ever,” The Hill, 4/15/13)

CBO: Revenues On Pace To Increase 83 Percent By 2023. According to the CBO, federal revenues will increase from $2.708 trillion in fiscal year 2013 to $4.961 trillion in fiscal year 2023, an 83 percent increase. Yet the federal budget deficit is expected to be $978 billion in fiscal year 2023. (“The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023. Summary Table 1. February 2013.” Congressional Budget Office)

And Wasting Billions On Duplication And Inefficiency…

The Hill: “GAO: Government Not Cutting Waste.” (Ben Goad, “GAO: Government not cutting waste,” The Hill, 5/22/13)

Implemented Just 12 Percent Of More Than 300 Cost-Saving Recommendations. “Congress and theObama administration have scrapped just a fraction of the duplicative programs targeted for cuts by Government Accountability Office (GAO), the agency’s chief told lawmakers Wednesday. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro said just 12 percent of more than 300 recommendations issued by GAO since 2011 to eliminate, combine or modify duplicative programs have been fully carried out.” (Ben Goad, “GAO: Government not cutting waste,” The Hill, 5/22/13)

Billions Still Being Wasted On Duplicative Programs. “The hearing follows the release of the latest in a series of GAO reports finding billions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted on government overlap spread across dozens of federal agencies.  Among its findings is the existence of two separate programs responsible for federal catfish inspections, 76 different drug abuse programs and a general lack of coordination between departments charged with providing veterans services.“ (Ben Goad, “GAO: Government not cutting waste,” The Hill, 5/22/13)

 

 YET, INSTEAD OF CUTTING WASTE, WASHINGTON OPTS FOR VISIBLE FURLOUGHS

Environmental Protection Agency Cuts Back On Number Of Furlough Days. “The Environmental Protection Agency has become the latest agency to cut back on its projected furlough days, cutting three days to bring the total to just under seven… Several other agencies recently have reduced their numbers of projected furlough days or have concluded that they won’t need to impose any.” (Eric Yoder, “EPA Cuts Projected Number Of Furlough Days,” The Washington Post5/29/13)

Flight Delays “One Of The Most Visible Aspects Of The Sequester.” “Flight delays have been one of the most visible aspects of the sequester since it went into effect.” (Keith Laing, “Flight delays trigger blame game over FAA furloughs among parties, airlines,” The Hill, 4/22/13)

FAA Whistleblower: Management Said To Make “Furloughs As Hard As Possible For Public.” “FAA regional employees wrote to blow the whistle on their bosses. As one email put it, ‘the FAA management has stated in meetings that they need to make the furloughs as hard as possible for the public so that they understand how serious it is.’” (Editorial, “The FAA Strikes Again, the FAA Brags,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/24/13)

Washington Times: “Email Tells Feds To Make Sequester As Painful As Promised.” “In the internal email, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service official Charles Brown said he asked if he could try to spread out the sequester cuts in his region to minimize the impact, and he said he was told not to do anything that would lessen the dire impacts Congress had been warned of.” (Stephen Dinan, “Email tells feds to make sequester as painful as promised,” The Washington Times, 3/5/13)

CNBC’s Jim Cramer: “Seemed A Little Disingenuous.” ”Seemed a little disingenuous to me, but the FAA wanted our plan to know, it’s because of sequester.  Period. So no more of this, was it sequester or not.  Pilot says they told us to use the word sequester.” (Jim Cramer, “The Opening Bell,”CNBC, 4/23/13)

 

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