Obama: Sequestration ‘is not going to be an apocalypse’

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

President Obama acknowledged that the spending cuts in sequestration will not be “an apocalypse,” walking back to some degree some of the scaremongering his team has indulged in recent days.

“This is not going to be an apocalypse, as some have said,” Obama told reporters, minutes after saying that “not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away. The pain though will be real.”

Obama’s team has portrayed the sequester as an unmitigated disaster, though. “Prepare yourself for job layoffs, reduced access to early education, slower emergency response, slashed health care, and more people living on the street,” former Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter wrote in an email to Organizing for Action (which is Obama’s reelection campaign re-branded as a non-profit.)

“Put simply, the automatic budget reduction mandated by sequestration would be disruptive and destructive to our nation’s security and economy,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a White House press briefing last week.  “It would negatively affect the mission readiness and capabilities of the men and women on our frontlines.  It would undermine the significant progress we’ve made over the past 10 years to build the nation’s preparedness and resiliency.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood predicted major disruption to the nation’s flight system. “Flights to major cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco and others could experience delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours because we have fewer controllers on staff,” LaHood told the White House press corps. “Delays in these major airports will ripple across the country. Cuts to budgets mean preventative maintenance and quick repair of runway equipment might not be possible, which could lead to more delays.  And once airlines see the potential impact of these furloughs, we expect that they will change their schedules and cancel flights.”

All that, for a 2.3 percent spending cut. “The President’s doomsday scenarios are of his own choosing,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., argued in response to Cutter’s email. “The sequester will cut 2.3 percent, or $85 billion, from the massive $3.55 trillion the federal government is projected to spend this year alone. To put that percentage in perspective, we borrow that much money every 28 days. If the President can’t cut that much, he’ll never cut anything.”

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