Spending Daily | February 26, 2013
Bankrupting America’s New Video: Listen to Newport News
Bankrupting America, a project of Public Notice, today released a new video featuring testimonials from residents of Hampton Roads and Newport News, Va., about their concerns for the economy, the looming sequester spending cuts and what they hope to hear from President Obama during his visit. While many were glad the president was visiting the region, their message was loud and clear: Americans have been tightening their belts in this economy, and it’s time for Washington to do the same.
Click here to watch the video.
President to Speak in Newport News Virginia, Amid Growing Sequestration Fears
The Washington Post reports, “As President Obama returned from a Florida golfing trip and Congress was on a Presidents’ Day break last week, Tommy Bassett, a nuclear machinist, was applying for a backup job at Lowe’s. The carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was supposed to arrive at the massive shipyard here on Valentine’s Day for a multibillion-dollar overhaul that would take years and provide Bassett and some of the other 21,000 shipyard employees with steady work. But the budget deadlock in Washington prompted the Navy to delay the project. For how long, no one seems to know. Whether layoffs are coming — no one seems to know that, either. Bassett is too anxious to wait to find out. His wife is having their first child in April, and she had to stop working for medical reasons. ‘If the budget doesn’t come in, they don’t have money for us,’ Bassett said. ‘I haven’t told her yet . . . I didn’t want her to worry.’ … Obama is not seen in Newport News as any sort of savior but rather as the leader of a dysfunctional government that is playing havoc with people’s lives. Residents are bitter and resentful. It’s difficult to have a conversation without getting an earful of expletives. And there is little patience here for serving as political props in Washington’s latest budget drama.”
Is the President Telling the Truth About the Sequester?
POLITICO reports, “Read President Barack Obama’s state-by-state breakdown of the sequester and you get a dire message: The sky is going to fall on March 1. But a closer read of the detailed reports shows that some of the scariest stuff is going to happen in slow motion — if it happens at all. … The state-by-state reports are full of scary numbers about funding cuts for schools, defense, public health, law enforcement and social services — any of which could be true if Congress and Obama fail to act this week, next month — or ever. So the scenarios described by Obama — ‘thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off’ or ‘hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings’ — are the worst-case scenario. Even Washington skeptics expect the sequester to soften eventually, even if the cuts take effect. … On Monday morning, for example, POLITICO Playbook broke news that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner may retroactively give agencies wiggle room in a spending bill due at the end of March, which could make cuts to important programs potentially easier to handle. So while Obama’s numbers add up under the current stalemate, the picture could improve if a deal is reached — even after the fact.”
“In Budget Fight, Sky is Falling Again”
The Associated Press reports, “President Barack Obama and his officials are doing their best to drum up public concern over the shock wave of spending cuts that could strike the government in just days. So it’s a good time to be alert for sky-is-falling hype. Over the last week or so, administration officials have come forward with a grim compendium of jobs to be lost, services to be denied or delayed, military defenses to be let down and important operations to be disrupted. Obama’s new chief of staff, Denis McDonough, spoke of a ‘devastating list of horribles.’ … However the cuts fall, [New York University Professor Paul Light] says the Washington Monument ploy, also known as the Firemen First principle, is at work. It goes like this: Put someone’s budget at risk and the first thing you’ll hear is a threat to close a cherished national symbol or lay off firefighters and police, when in fact there are other ways to cut spending.”
Republicans: Sequester Isn’t Great, But Doesn’t Raise Taxes
Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post, “A meat cleaver hangs over the federal government, but the unflappable men and women of the House majority remain cool and poised. … After months of fretting over the harmful effects of sequestration, as the automatic cuts are called, House Republicans have belatedly embraced the realization that if they do nothing at all, they will be rewarded on Friday with a 2.5 percent cut in all federal spending without coughing up a single dollar in tax increases. They have learned to stop worrying and love the sequester. President Obama is barnstorming the country, calling for tax increases and alternative spending cuts to replace the automatic ones. But while Republicans say they’d consider a different blend of reductions, they’d rather have the sequester than another deal like the one in December that raised taxes.”
“Editorial: Sequestration follies”
The Washington Times editorializes, “Here we go again. Lawmakers are once more warning that the nation hangs on the brink of unimaginable disaster. Another cliff, you might say. Five days from now automatic budget restraint is scheduled to take effect, and nothing frightens a politician more than restraint on spending. It was put into place after President Obama refused to agree to a plan for more responsible reductions. To enhance the theatrics, this reduction goes by the intimidating name of sequestration. … The sequestration is supposed to trim $85 billion in spending in a budget that proposes to spend $3.8 trillion. That would be a 2.2 percent cut, except it’s not the end of the story. In the first few months of the current fiscal year, federal spending has already increased $42 billion. So by year’s end, 2013 spending is likely to exceed 2012’s, even after the sequestration. That’s exactly what has happened year-after-year since Mr. Obama first moved into the Oval Office.”
“Sequestration: Bring it on!”
Roger Simon writes in POLITICO, “Politicians have lost their power to frighten me. I no longer believe the sky is falling. I have lived through America’s past disasters: Vietnam. Watergate. Disco. We survived them all. We have grown strong at the broken places. But now the pols have come up with a new word to panic us: sequester. … All sorts of things will be cut under a sequester… But do you know what does not get cut? Take a guess. That’s right: The salaries of senators and representatives do not get cut under sequester. Congressional staffers — those people who actually read and write the laws, get coffee and have to go before the cameras to explain why their boss has been found in a Motel 6 with a pole dancer named Mercedes Dee Lite — face a 20 percent pay cut through furloughs. But members of Congress? Their six-figure salaries will continue to roll in…”
AP Survey: Budget Battle Hindering Economy
The Associated Press reports, “The political standoff over the U.S. budget is slowing the U.S. economy – more so than any hesitance by Americans to spend freely. … Many of the economists think consumer spending has slowed in response to higher tax burdens but will rebound later in the year. By contrast, they worry that the budget fights in Washington will persist for much of 2013 and drag on economic growth. Twenty-three of the 37 economists who responded to the survey last week say the paralysis in Washington is a significant factor in slowing the economy. The next-biggest factors they cite, in order: too little job growth, excessive government regulation and taxes, stagnant wages and cautious bank lending. Only eight say they worry about consumers saving more and spending less.”
“Blame and fear as sequester looms”
The Hill reports, “Recriminations over the sequester reached a new pitch on Monday as the White House warned the spending cuts would leave the nation vulnerable to terrorism and Republicans called President Obama a ‘road show’ commander in chief unconcerned with getting things done. The escalating war of words comes just three days before the sequester is set to hit — on March 1 — and with neither side expected to back down over the central issue of including any tax hikes as part of a bill to replace the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts. … Both the White House and congressional Republicans are already eyeing March 27 as the real deadline in the dispute. Congress must approve new legislation to fund the government by then, and that measure increasingly is being seen as a vehicle for changing the sequester — if the sides can work out a deal.”
“Analysis: Obama Spending Cuts Strategy Focused On Waiting Game”
Reuters reports, “The White House, while advancing an aggressive public relations campaign to highlight the damaging effects of $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, is largely resigned to the fact that they will go into effect on Friday. With no deal expected in the few days remaining until the cuts kick in, President Barack Obama is pursuing a strategy aimed at generating outrage among Americans that he hopes will force Republicans to come to the negotiating table and agree to his demand for higher taxes after the cuts go into place. … The White House says it has little flexibility in determining where the cuts will take place, rejecting claims from Republicans that the president could make trims that would be less economically damaging. ‘You can’t change the fact that the impact will be heavy,’ said White House spokesman Jay Carney. The risk of this strategy, experts say, is that the public may not perceive the cuts to be as bad as advertised and fails to get outraged.”
GOP Has Plan to Give President Discretion on Cuts
The New York Times reports, “Congressional Republicans are preparing to counter increasingly dire warnings from President Obama about the impact of automatic budget cuts with a plan to give the administration more flexibility in instituting $85 billion in cuts, a proposal they say could protect the mostvital programs while shifting more of the political fallout to the White House. The plan is vigorously opposed by the administration, which said Monday that it would do little to soften the blow to military and domestic programs. But it is also dividing Democrats, with lawmakers from the states facing the deepest cuts signaling that they may be prepared to go along with Republicans if it means avoiding indiscriminate cuts to military programs and social services.”