Sequester: The Job Killer That Never Was

May 15, 2014

By Tom Fletcher

Based on the hyperbole coming out of Washington last spring, one would have thought that the world was coming to an end when so-called “sequestration” took effect. On the eve of the scheduled cuts, the President proclaimed, “the sequester will cost tens of thousands of jobs.”

We see in hindsight that these job losses did not turn out to be true. The Government Accountability Office recently released a report detailing the impacts of sequestration. The results are eye opening to say the least and contradict what the Obama administration and others said what would happen if these modest spending reductions happened. According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, it turns out that sequestration eliminated a grand total of one job—in the US Parole Division, part of the Department of Justice. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn summed it up best when he said, “Washington politicians and administration officials … spent months – and millions of dollars – engaging in a … public relations campaign to scare the American people.”

Americans for Prosperity’s Akash Chougule recently highlighted on the Daily Caller that that the projections of two million fewer jobs and cuts in meals and benefits to hundreds of thousands of seniors also never materialized. Never mind that sequester only cut 2 percent of discretionary spending in the first year, regardless it still cut spending, which our federal finances drastically need.

By way of background, sequestration was a spending control mechanism bourne out of the Budget Control Act of 2011. These across-the-board spending cuts would be triggered if a “super-committee,” a bi-partisan group of Senators and Congressman, couldn’t come to an agreement on spending cuts. The Budget Control Act put in place small across the board spending reduction to various government departments and agencies.

Going back to March 2013, the Obama administration and many others warned the sequestration would have a devastating impact on the economy and on jobs. Later that summer, Senator Harry Reid took to the Senate floor claiming that sequestration had already cost 1.6 million jobs. This number was conclusively refuted by the Washington Post fact checker, who gave it four Pinocchios.

Americans for Prosperity was at the forefront in calling on the sequester to happen since it was “the first time in a long time, genuine substantive spending reductions actually took effect and the government is running just a bit leaner.” Our longtime position has been that, although across-the-board cuts may not be the smartest way to cut spending, the sequester is the best tool that we have in reducing our debt and deficits. When sequester took effect the world didn’t end much to the chagrin of the President and his allies.

Though sequester in its 2011 form lasted less than a year, the effects of its alleged cruelty have since been proven false with this latest report. The fact is that reducing government spending and cutting waste out of government departments is a good thing and should be welcome. This country continues to face enormous fiscal challenges that are not being addressed in a serious fashion by elected officials in Washington. People across the country are looking for leadership in Washington and are fed up with the business as usual attitude in Washington. Unfortunately, Washington couldn’t hold its nerve. Better luck next time.

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