The President has spent months playing the scare game, goading rather than governing. We’ve been treated to story after story of the woes about to befall us if those nasty old Republicans don’t shape up and start agreeing to more tax revenues:
FEBRUARY 27, 2013 12:00 P.M.
Obama’s Sequester Scare Tactics
The cuts could be responsibly managed, but the president hasn’t tried.
The White House has argued that the March 1 sequester of federal spending — a cut of approximately 5 percent from the domestic-spending programs covered by the sequester requirement, along with 8 percent cuts to defense programs — will bring about the most dire of consequences. According to the president, “this meat-cleaver approach . . . will jeopardize our military readiness [and] eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research.”
Maybe more alarmingly, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget issued a press release earlier this month claiming that the cuts in federal spending “could” force reductions in food inspections, which “could” lead to outbreaks of more food-borne bacteria, such as E. coli. Administration officials and their allies are making similarly alarming claims regarding what “could” happen to workplace safety, law enforcement, and education.
It seems clear that the administration has the capacity to make sequestration’s impact excessively unpleasant, and these statements could make one wonder whether the administration is determined to do so.
As is too often the case with this President and administration, the claims of doom are increasingly transparent. Reality is proving inconvenient to the Presidents ‘sky is gonna fall’ narrative.
Reality shows us the Federal Budget is increased for 2013 over last year, the reduction from the sequester will simply reduce how much the budget increases.
Reality shows us the American people recently experienced a similar hit to their budgets – the expiration of the payroll tax cuts was a similar approx. 2.5% hit in every working American’s budget. It would seem the American people somehow managed to take that hit in stride and kept right on trucking.
Reality is the sequester will force a cut of just 2.4% of the budget – its $85 billion in total cuts are roughly the same amount as was approved for the hurricane Sandy relief. Obama and his administration have been scaremongering for weeks about the massive problems this will cause, but as the story notes – they have had months to prepare.
They have re-framed the “cost” of the cuts as a result of their foot dragging. While the sequester requires a less than 3% reduction in the federal budget the Obama administration is characterizing it as ‘federal agencies will have to cut 8% of their budget from March onward’ … a whopper of a white lie. The reason it amounts to 8% … a 2.4% annual budget reduction is NOT 8%.
Further – the cuts can relatively easily be geared within each organization to apply more to discretionary items allowing front line operational spending to be largely unaffected.
Then we have the shear idiocy of some of the fear mongering – the Dept of Homeland Security for example telling us we will see massive disruption to air travel and decrease in national security.
Which is simply put – silly.
The Department of Homeland Security’s 2012 budget request was $57 billion. They must cut approximately $627 million thru the sequester. They could eliminate one single non-essential program – “Assistance to Firefighters” Grants – and save $670 million. These are grants to local fire departments to rehire laid off workers and pay for more equipment and training. There are zero FD’s that will be appreciably negatively impacted by the loss of these funds. Here is a short version of the DHS budget for 2012 – I suspect most rational adults can find $627 million in cuts that would have no significant affect on day to day life. Instead Obama and his admin are threatening to use the most disruptive and destructive cuts they can come up with. It is scaremongering pure and simple. Nothing more.
For comparison – the 2008 DHS budget was $46 billion. In the last 5 years the DHS budget has skyrocketed $10 billion – increasing more than 21% – and yet they are claiming catastrophe over a slightly over 2% cut thru sequestration.
And how about the threats of chaos at the TSA – severe disruptions to air travel etc if the sequester cuts the budgets at TSA? An outright joke is what that claim is. First, TSA is part of Dept of Homneland Security – and DHS budgets increased 21+% the last 5 years – the DHS budget request for 2012 was $57 billion vs $47 billion in 2008. For 2013 they bumped it higher yet – to $59 billion – $2 billion more – a total of $12 billion over the 2009-2013 budget periods.The specific budget for TSA in 2013 was $7.633 billion. Meaning they need to cut appx $190 million thru sequestration. This is a miniscule amount that can easily be found in the $7.6 billion budget, assuming it is not offset elsewhere in the $57 billion DHS overall budget – See table 12 page 52 of this link.
The truly interesting part – the dagger in the heart to Obama and his admin’s fear mongering about the TSA – is to look at its budget compared to air travel …The TSA Budgets:2008 – $6.815 billion2009 – $6.978 billion2010 – $7.656 billion 2011 – $ 7.688 billion2012 – $7.841 billion2013 – $ 7.645 billion requested From 2008 to to 2013 the TSA budget increased 12.2%. From 2008 to 2011 the TSA budget increased 12.8%.So how does that compare to air traffic? Total aircraft departures decreased from 9,975,967 in 2008 to 9,160,580 in 2011. Total revenue passengers decreased from 690,249,540 in 2008 to 681,353,394 in 2011. In a time where the DHS budget increased 21.2% and the TSA budget increased 12.8% aircraft departures decreased 8.17% and total passengers decreased 1.29%The DHS and TSA are doing LESS work despite hugely higher budgets. There is ZERO legitimate reason that a 2+% decrease SHOULD have any appreciable impact on either the Air Traffic control system or on the TSA ability to process passengers.
Yet the President and his admin are screaming from every roof top at the dire consequences we can expect from the sequester.I have just one word for them – supported with irrefutable facts …. “liars.”
I’m sure someone might say air travel increased as the economy has improved in 2012 … that would be false as well … passenger aircraft departures for 2012 were 9.74% LESS than 2008 and 2.15% LESS than 2011. Passengers on All U.S. Scheduled Airlines (Domestic & International), December 2007-November 2012:
Air travel has not increased in 2013. The REALITY is the TSA and DHS budgets have both increased significantly yet the number of flights, and the passengers traveling, have declined over the last 5 years.
There is NO valid reason the DHS nor the TSA should have any problem handling the current level of traffic with a slightly lower budget. Even with 2.4% cuts the TSA and DHS budgets are higher than 2008, yet they are handling fewer travelers and less air traffic.
And if all that isn’t enough to put the truth to the Presidents fear mongering lies about the effects of the sequester on air traffic control and passenger security and screening, lest look at his OWN proposals on the TSA budget.
When we do we find a curious thing. it was just a year ago that Obama proposed a 2.5% CUT in the TSA budget. Funny thing – when they were proposing it – it was no problem … today, a slightly smaller cut is mass chaos if we believe their fear mongering.
If Obama wanted to find painless cuts at the TSA and DHS – cuts that would avoid entirely cuts to air traffic control, passenger screening or security – he would only need look at the top watchdog in Congress’s House Committee on Oversight and Reforms report on persistent waste and inefficiencies at the TSA.
Or he could review the House Majority TSA Reform Report on the myriad TSA problems and how to address and fix them.
In the “picture is worth 1,000 words” department – a graph from the above report shows the REALITY regarding the TSA – and destroys the Presidents fear mongering – in a single image … TSA employee hiring versus air passengers traveling.
TSA Security Officer employees skyrocketing despite domestic air passengers traveling falling to well below 2005 levels. There cannot be ANY better indicator of the worthless mess of ineffective spending that is the TSA than this chart: