The White House Is Pressuring Republicans On The Sequester By Warning Of Drastic State-By-State Cuts

Barack Obama sequester

Photo: AP

Less than a week before across-the-board cuts start to kick in as a result of the sequester, the White House warned on Sunday of the state-by-state effect of the cuts. The White House released reports outlining how the cuts would affect each of the nation’s 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. 

Jason Furman, Deputy Director of the Obama administration’s National Economic Council, gave some examples of the looming cuts on an afternoon White House conference call:

  • In Ohio, he said, the sequester would put 350 teacher and teacher-aide jobs at risk, while 100 schools would receive less federal funding. All in all, he said, it would affect 34,000 students.
  • Military readiness in Virginia could be compromised, Furman said. About 90,000 civilian Department of defence employees would be furloughed, and maintenance on 11 ships could be canceled. 
  • In Georgia, there would be a cut in funding of vaccinations by about $286,000. Furman said that could mean about 4,180 fewer children could receive vaccines for ailments like measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, and Hepatitis B.
  • In Kentucky, 400 fewer victims of domestic violence could be served because of a $93,000 reduction in funding to its STOP Violence Against Women program.

The White House may be trying to use weekend warnings from state governors — such as Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who are both Republicans — to hammer its point.

On CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, McDonnell said that sequester was “put in place to be a hammer, not a policy.” Brewer, also a Republican, urged Republicans in Congress to be “pragmatic” on compromise — including possibly new forms of revenue.

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer was asked on the call if he thought Obama had “misjudged” how badly Republicans would end up wanting to avert the sequester. Pfeiffer rejected that, saying the GOP has only changed its stance lately because they want to appear to have “leverage” on the issue.

“Republicans racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles heading to Virginia during the election to campaign about how horrible these cuts would be to our defence and to try to score political points against the President,” Pfeiffer said. 

Pfeiffer blamed the Republican leadership for muting some conservative voices he pointed out were warning about the mistake of the sequester’s implementation.

“Few people have more credibility in these issues in the Republican Party than Sen. McCain, and he has been very vocal about what a terrible idea this is,” Pfeiffer said of the Arizona Republican.

“Many in the Republican establishment, like Bill Kristol, have talked about what a terrible mistake the Republicans are making. If the leadership would get out of the way, there are a lot of Republicans who would be open to a more balanced, compromised approach to this.”

House Speaker John Boehner’s office responded to the White House’s call with a familiar line — that House Republicans have twice passed legislation to replace the sequester’s cuts with other targeted cuts. However, that legislation expired with the end of the last Congress.

“Republicans in the House have voted — twice — to replace President Obama’s sequester with smarter spending cuts,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steele said. “The White House needs to spend less time explaining to the press how bad the sequester will be and more time actually working to stop it.”

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