Sequester Hysteria vs. Reality

March 04, 2013

The sun rose and fell over the weekend despite some of the doomsday scenarios that were predicted by Democrats and the Obama Administration.  Below are the highlights of claims on the sequester that didn’t quite pan out.

Fiction: Barack Obama: “Starting tomorrow, everybody here, cleaning the floors at the Capitol. They’re going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards. They just got a pay cut. They’ve got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real.” -Washington Post, 3/1/13

Fact: “Obama’s remarks continue the administration’s pattern of overstating the potential impact of the sequester, which we have explored this week. But this error is particularly bad– and nerve-wracking to the janitors and security guards who were misled by the president’s comments…  nothing in Obama’s statement came close to being correct.” -Washington Post, 3/1/13


Fiction: Jay Carney: “On the issue of the janitors, if you work for an hourly wage and you earn overtime, and you depend on that overtime to make ends meet.” – White House 3/4/13

Fact: “Apparently, the president assumed — incorrectly — that the janitors on Capitol Hill would get a pay cut. Rather than admit an error, White House aides doubled down on their talking points about overtime being essential to their livelihood, without actually knowing the truth.” – Washington Post, 3/6/13

Fiction: FAA: “In one of the most immediate consequences of the pending spending cuts, the Federal Aviation Administration has informed contractors that … the agency will move Monday to close some 168 contractor-staffed air traffic control towers nationwide on April 1, and another 21 towers by Sept. 30, industry officials tell CNN.”- CNN 3/1/13

Fact: “Two days after a Federal Aviation Administration official told contractors that steps were being taken to shut down 168 air traffic control towers on April 1, the agency gave the towers an unexpected reprieve Friday, saying the official’s comments were ‘unauthorized.’”- CNN 3/1/13


Fiction:“Meals on Wheels would be able to serve 4 million fewer meals to seniors.”- White House, 2/8/13

Fact:  “Given that federal funding is just one-third of the funding source, and the 4 million figure represents a relatively small part of the program, it is hard at this point to justify such specificity.” -Washington Post, 3/1/13


Fiction:White House officials said they still believe that the automatic cuts will be severely disruptive right away.”- New York Times, 2/19/13

Fact: “The White House has eased off its dire predictions, with economic adviser Gene Sperling on Sunday calling the impact more of a ‘slow grind’ than an economic doomsday.” – Fox News, 3/4/13


Fiction: Barack Obama: “Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go.”- New York Times, 2/19/13

Fact: A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons, which houses 218,000 federal prisoners, ‘does not intend to let anyone go on March 1 because of the cuts.’ She said that bureau personnel might be furloughed and that vocational education programs and others might be curtailed.” New York Times, 2/19/13


Fiction: Barack Obama: “Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find child care for their kids.”- White House, 2/19/13

Fact: “Day care centers are almost certainly not going to be padlocked on March 1.” -New York Times, 2/20/13


Fiction: Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA): “If we don’t act to avoid these spending cuts, we threaten the very safety of our community and our country… People are going to be unsafe, homes are going to burn. We have to act.”- House Record, 2/26/13

Fact: “Firehouse woes do not begin and end with the sequester; local budgets and policies also deserve some blame. Finally, blaming the sequester obscures even larger cuts the administration itself proposed prior to the sequester. On balance, we rate Bera’s claim Mostly False.”- Politifact, 3/1/13


Fiction: Arne Duncan: “It just means a lot more children will not get the kinds of services and opportunities they need, and as many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs. … There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall.”- CBS’s “Face the Nation,” 2/24/13

Fact: “The administration has been on thin ice with some of its claims about the impact of the sequestration cuts. Duncan’s assertion that “as many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs” also appears to be hyperbole.” – Washington Post 2/27/13


Fiction: Kathleen Sebelius: “Up to 70,000 children would lose access to Head Start and early Head Start services.”

Fact: “The 70,000 figure stems from some simple arithmetic, not an actual determination of the number of children who would lose their place in the program.”  Further finding … “In other words, not all of those reductions might materialize. In any case, even if they did, the sequester could return Head Start to the size of the program before Obama became president.”-Washington Post, 2/26/13

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