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No Smart Way? Oh, Behave…

Posted: May 1, 2013 at 5:10 pm   /   by

No Smart Way?
Oh, Behave…

The blame game in Washington reached a new low yesterday when President Obama said that he shouldn’t have to tell Congress how to “behave” when it comes to the sequester.  In light of the comments, Bankrupting America decided to take a look back at how the White House has been behaving when faced with cutting three cents on the dollar in government spending.



Some Say Sequester Was Obama’s Idea.
Chris Wallace, ‘Fox News Sunday’ Host: “Bob, as the man who literally wrote the book about the budget battle, put this to rest. Whose idea was the sequester, and did you ever think that we’d actually get to this point?”

Bob Woodward: “First, it was the White House. It was Obama and Jack Lew and Rob Nabors who went to the Democratic Leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, and said, “this is the solution.” But everyone has their fingerprints on this.” (“Bob Woodward: Sequester Was Obama’s Idea,” Real Clear Politics2/17/13)



Obama Says Scheduled Cuts ‘Will Not Happen.’ “President Barack Obama said Monday that scheduled cuts to spending on the military and other government programs ‘will not happen,’ marking perhaps his most definitive comments on the subject.” (Damian Paletta, “Obama Says Scheduled Cuts ‘Will Not Happen’,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/22/12)



The White House Sent Letters To Defense Contractors Pressuring Them Not To Plan For The Fiscal Cliff. “The Obama administration issued new guidance intended for defense contractors … reiterating the administration’s position that the companies should not be issuing layoff notices over sequestration.” (Jeremy Herb, “Obama administration tells contractors again: Don’t issue layoff notices,” The Hill, 9/28/12)


President Obama Promises Government Will Help Bail Out Furloughed Agencies:

OMB Guidance: Contractors Would Be Compensated For Legal Costs Due To Layoffs From Sequester. “[G]uidance from the Office of Management and Budget raised the stakes in the dispute, telling contractors that they would be compensated for legal costs if layoffs occur due to contract cancellations under sequestration — but only if the contractors follow the Labor guidance.” (Jeremy Herb, “Obama administration tells contractors again: Don’t issue layoff notices,” The Hill, 9/28/12)



President Obama: “If Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place … it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job creating investments in education and energy and medical research.” (Editorial, “President Armageddon,” The Wall Street Journal, 2/20/13)



White House: “No Smart Way” To Cut Spending, Promised To Veto Flexibility:

In January, The White House Backed Away From Flexibility On Political Grounds. “White House budget officials are leery. If Congress grants the White House the authority to protect air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and national parks, the administration’s carefully devised high-pressure campaign that has been mounting for weeks could deflate. Moreover, the White House would take on the responsibility of deciding which programs to protect and which to expose — and the political consequences that go with that.” (Jonathan Weisman and Michael D. Shear, “G.O.P Drafts Plan to Give Obama Discretion on Cuts,” The New York Times, 2/26/13)

And Eventually Threatened To Veto A Bill Intended To Give Them Discretion: “The White House threatened to veto the Senate GOP’s bill aimed at giving the president flexibility to target spending cuts — ripping the idea for protecting corporate tax exemptions.” (Steven Dennis, “White House Threatens To Veto GOP Sequester Bill,” Roll Call, 2/28/13)



Sequester Goes Into Effect:

Obama Signs The Sequester Into Effect. “The deadline to avoid the across the board cuts outright came and went on Friday evening, as Mr. Obama officially signed the sequester into effect.” (Jake Miller, “Sequester blame game continues as government shutdown looms,” CBS News, 3/2/13)


Agencies Are Able to Find Flexibility: 

CBS This Morning: Spending Cuts Can Be Done “Wisely And Better.”

Charlie Rose: “So, does that mean Republicans have a point when they say spending cuts can be done wisely and better?”

John Dickerson: “Well, yes they do.  And this is what irritates a lot of Democrats and the White House, because Republicans say ‘Yes, we can just be smart about these cuts and we can shrink the budget.’ What the White House was hoping is that the pain from sequestration – these across the board cuts – would hit and people would say, ‘ we need a big fix to this cockeyed budget we’ve got.’” (CBS This Morning, 4/26/13)

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)

Attorney General Announces No Furloughs At Justice Department: “Attorney General Eric Holder says he will not need to furlough any Justice Department employees in the current fiscal year. The attorney general says he will be able to avoid furloughs because of additional money in the recently enacted legislation, combined with aggressive steps to freeze hiring and cut contracting and other costs.” (“Holder: No Furloughs At Justice Department, CBS News, 4/24/13)

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)



White House Spokesman Says “Piecemeal Is Not The Way To Fix The Sequester”:

Bill Plante, CBS News: “By accepting the FAA, haven’t you now opened the door to a bunch of folks coming along asking for a piece-by-piece fix on the flexibility in a particular agency or budget line, but taken the pressure off for the very grand bargain, balanced compromise that you say you want?”

Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary:  “No, because as I pointed out, piecemeal is not the way to fix the sequester.  It would tax not just this Congress, but any Congress in history to go about the business of trying to fix this in a piecemeal fashion.  It’s not the way to do it.” (White House Press Briefing, 4/29/13)

Obama Balks At Idea That His Job Is To Get Lawmakers to ‘Behave.’ “Now, facing a House Republican majority opposed to his agenda, the president dismissed what he heard as suggestions that “my job is to somehow get [lawmakers] to behave.” It’s up to Congress, he said, to solve the pressing problems that are facing the country.” (Justin Sink, “Obama Bristles At Suggestions That His Second-Term Agenda Is Failing,” The Hill4/30/13) is an educational project of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to providing facts and insight on the effects public policy has on Americans’ financial well-being.

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No Smart Way? Oh, Behave...