With deadline looming, White House details cuts
February 24th, 2013
08:00 PM ET
5 years ago

With deadline looming, White House details cuts

(CNN) – Food safety inspections, early education classrooms and mental health treatment are all at risk if massive forced spending cuts are allowed to take effect at the end of this week, the White House said Sunday.

Those cuts would accompany deep reductions in defense spending - including stalling maintenance on Navy ships - that are also poised to trigger March 1.

In detailed reports for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, President Barack Obama's budget office spelled out how the cuts - which are the result of a stalemate between Congressional Republicans and the White House over reducing the federal deficit - will affect localities, putting the stakes of the budget debate in stark terms as Congress returns to Washington after a week-long break.

But some Republicans question whether the Obama administration is simply crafting a doomsday scenario for the indiscriminate cuts to force Congressional Republicans into accepting a deal that includes more tax increases for wealthy Americans, which GOP leaders say is unacceptable. They would rather cut spending on entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, which they say are the real drivers of the country's debt.

Nationwide, the White House said, 70,000 children would no longer have access to Head Start early education programs, and 10,000 teacher jobs would be at risk, consequences that Education Secretary Arne Duncan detailed Sunday.

"It creates tremendous instability," Duncan said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "And there are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can't come back this fall."

Reduced federal funding for vaccines would mean children would go without shots that prevent measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza and hepatitis B. The report indicated 2,100 fewer food inspections would occur, and medical research would be stalled.

READ MORE: 'These cuts do not have to happen,' Obama says

Hundreds of thousands of "seriously mentally ill adults and seriously emotionally disturbed children" could go without treatment for their ailments, according to the White House, which could lead to higher rates of hospitalization and incarceration.

And the Federal Aviation Administration would be forced to cut $600 million from its budget, which the agency's boss said Sunday would result in furloughs - or forced leave - for nearly all of the FAA's 47,000 employees.

"We're going to try and cut as much as we possibly can out of contracts and other things that we do," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. "But in the end, there has to be some kind of furlough of air traffic controllers, and that will also begin to curtail or eliminate the opportunity for them to guide planes in and out of airports."

All told, non-defense programs would be forced to reduce their spending by 9%, the White House said, while defense programs would have to cut 13%.

Cuts to the military would include calling off maintenance on 11 ships in Norfolk, Virginia, home of the world's largest naval base. Air Force operations in the Commonwealth could be cut by $8 million. In San Diego, maintenance on five ships would be canceled. In Jacksonville, Florida, funding to maintain an aircraft depot would disappear.

The state-by-state analysis by the White House is a continuation of the administration's attempt to demonstrate in stark terms how the forced spending cuts would affect Americans - and to pin the blame on the GOP. That effort has been met with some skepticism from Republicans.

"Rather than issuing last-minute press releases on cuts to first responders or troop training or airport security, [Obama] should propose smarter ways to cut Washington spending. After all, Washington spending, even with the sequester, is bigger than it was when he got here," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in response to the White House's detailing of the cuts.

“There are smarter ways to reduce the size of government. And with the national debt well over $16 trillion dollars, it’s time for the White House to stop spending all its time campaigning, and start finding smarter ways to reduce the deficit," McConnell continued.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, 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."

Some Republicans argue the White House is exaggerating how much Americans would feel the effects of the cuts.

"The American people, we see all these claims about what a tragedy it's going to be," Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said on "Fox News Sunday," pointing to statements from LaHood and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"They have plenty of flexibility in terms of discretion on how they spend money," Coburn said. "There are easy ways to cut this money that the American people will never feel. What you hear is an outrage because nobody wants to cut spending."

Another Republican, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, called the dire warnings from Obama administration officials merely "great political theater about how cutting less than 3% of the federal budget can cause all these awful consequences."

"Here is (Obama's) chance to say, 'Here is how we can do it better.' The reality is, the federal budget, even after the cuts, will be larger than last year's budget," Jindal said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to the president, denied that the White House was overstating the effects of the cuts, saying that it's Obama's "responsibility to make sure the American people understand what's at stake here in this debate."

"This is going to have a very real impact on people's lives and on communities, and people need to know why that is," Pfeiffer said. "Are all these things going to go into effect on the first day? No. But there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who are working today who will lose their jobs as a consequence of this Republican decision."

Filed under: Budget • Congress • White House
soundoff (152 Responses)
  1. Tony in Maine

    Perhaps the Democrats should give the Repubs everything they want, government cut to little more than a way to keep airports open for corporate aviation and police to keep the serfs at bay, plus unfettered access to guns.


    If the serfs get guns and realize they are little more than Kleenex to be used and tossed away, there could be trouble...

    February 25, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    tiresofhearingit wrote:

    Everyone took a 2 % paycut through medicare deduction in our paychecks, and we are all supposed to be fine. But when the govt is made to cut 2% , the sky is falling? Not believeing the hype. Tired of the doomsday threats by the white house, he doesnt want to stop spending money.
    If you don't believe the White House, then why don't you listen to what Republicans said roughly 60 days ago. The GDP had fallen during the final quarter of 2012. Republicans blamed on spending cuts at the Defense Department. The next round of cuts to DoD will be even larger.

    February 25, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  3. The dark crystal ball

    I see people....
    They are sitting around a table.....there is a huge pig....or PORK maybe?!?

    They are cutting it up and and giving it to a guy named Bill... It could be a revised or new bill...

    ...and revising some cuts to avoid buku job loss...I see media brinkmanship...

    February 25, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  4. lapazjim

    How does Obama actually know that the changes he is proposing are not going to be worse than the ones now?He doesn't!! He is under the impression that anything he does is ok and will work.He is in a delusional state.
    The biggest problem this country is facing is The Politicians that do not want to work on anything.They are like the people that do nothing,sit back and collect a paycheck.Its time they get off of their lard asses and do some work.They have to stop allowing it come down to the fine wire on these bills(Fiscal Cliff and Sequester).These all should have been resolved at least a month before their being implemented.This is how these Politicians are failing this country.They do not want to work unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.Its break after break with nothing accomplished!!
    Time to put an end to it all and tell them to put up or get the Hell out of DC for good.If they continue to not do the job that they were elected to do(what the people want and need) then they should be thrown out of office and more competent people put in their place.Maybe its time to start fresh with new blood and new ideas in DC instead of the same old Politicians controlling everything.Its time to stop the madness and work together to solve this countries problems.We do not need the bickering,fighting and threatening anymore>WE THE PEOPLE WANT RESULTS!!

    February 25, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  5. McRCN

    Is the White House ever going to tell us about the good cuts that are in the best interest of the country?

    February 25, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. Russ in Md

    Lane: "There should be term limits too. Get rid of McConnell and Cantor. We don't need obstructionists."

    Agree, Lets get rid of Reed, Pelosi, and Hoyer while your at it.

    February 25, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  7. WatrGrrl

    It truly is a shame that the only way Owe-bama knows how to play his little political games is to threaten, blackmail and lie. Being a Community Agitator and never having held a real job nor having had the experience of being a professional has demonstrated time and time again that Americans made a horrendous mistake by voting an unvetted affirmative action president. He simply is not competent to be President. He is not honorable. He cares only for his ego and has the delusional belief that people worship his greatness and brilliance. A pity that his is simply a case of The Emperor and His New Clothes.

    February 25, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  8. Anonymous

    we don't need gov't subsidized day care for 4 and 5 year olds, take care of your kids yourself, we don't need anger management classes for drunks and drug addicts, we don't need to be paying 15 and 16 year old mothers to stay in school, Mr obama wants voters to suffer instead of making cuts where we need them most.

    February 25, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  9. rs

    George in Wyoming
    the cuts were written into the bill by the House Republicans. This is a Republican bill, passed by virtually all Republicans in Comgress. If you don't like what you see in the bill, contact your Republican House members today.

    February 25, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  10. mike

    We will survive!!!!

    It's not that terrible!!!

    The terrible thing is that we have no leaders willing to do the right thing when it comes to telling the real truth to the people.

    February 25, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  11. rs

    Wake Up Call

    So the federal gov't and it's employees will have to face what the private sector has had to deal with for years now; pay cuts, job loss, and less opportunity.
    The difference, Wake-Up is that the private sector has seen years of record profits, while the government had its revenues cut for the last 12 years.
    Just because the private sector is too greedy to pay livable wages, or retirement or benefit packages any more (so their executives get record salaries and golden parachutes) doessn't mean that is a good model for a modern society.

    February 25, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  12. TiSentinel65

    The gov. forces me to live on what I make. What is wrong with them that they can't do the same? They take money from me and say everybody has to give a little more. I don't see that they are doing anything but spending more than what they bring in. This ensures that in the future I will have to pay an even greater share and adjust accordingly while they ignore their own advice. Government has become a ponzi scheme where the government continues to enrich themselves while we the investors are left with nothing.

    February 25, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    lapazjim wrote:

    How does Obama actually know that the changes he is proposing are not going to be worse than the ones now?He doesn't!! He is under the impression that anything he does is ok and will work.He is in a delusional state.
    How do conservatives know that removing all of the DoD cuts and lumping all of the cuts into entitlements and discretionary spending would be better? When you can answer that, by describing how you've come to your own opinions, then you can question other people's opinions. Please present facts, not some hokey beliefs from a discredtied religion.

    February 25, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. rs


    What is becoming clear is that the Obama Administration doesn't know how to govern.
    Any of the 50 governors would know how to deal with a 3% "cut",
    First, why should the President of the United States work with Republicans? They have worked against him since day one ("to make him a one-term Prsident"). Even though they have failed at that, they have not once held up their end of the bargain on any negotiations they have had with the President, hence the Sequester.
    2. If you pay attention, the Governors are scared. Primarily because so much of their mioney (that you claim they spend so wisely) comes from the federal government- that is why so many jobs like teachers, firefighters and policemen are at risk- they are supported directly by federal dollars because the states don't have the money.

    February 25, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  15. ronvan

    TERM LIMITS? YES, YES, YES! And lets put into law an AGE limit! Tired of TRYING to listen & understand some of these "old fuddy duddies", who not only have problems talking, but, can only speak "political-ese". THEN lets pass a law, making it a class 1 felony, for ANY lobbyist, special interest group, etc., to try to "infulence" an elected officials vote!

    February 25, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  16. ronvan

    WHAT IF: WE, THE PEOPLE, voted OUT all, everyone, of our "elected children" and started over? Do you THINK that we could even do it? Not really sure if OUR vote means what is used to mean?

    February 25, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Anonymous wrote:

    This is Obama sequester and nobody else, he said if it didnt get passed he would veto.
    You really need to stop repeating the utterly ridiiculous nonsense that you hear in the right wing meda. If you only knew just how truly insave most of it sounds to people not living in the right wing fringes.

    Psst, the only bills that the POTUS can veto are the ones that actually get passed. That means if a bill does not get passed, then it is impossible for the POTUS to veto it.

    February 25, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  18. Dar

    All of you on here sound and act just like your buddies in Washinton.

    Would you like some chesse with your wine?

    February 25, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  19. Sniffit

    ""Rather than issuing last-minute press releases on cuts to first responders or troop training or airport security, [Obama] should propose smarter ways to cut Washington spending. After all, Washington spending, even with the sequester, is bigger than it was when he got here,""

    And grew at the lowest rate since Eisenhower, but Beaker won't tell you about that part. What he's really upset about is that Obama is informing people of the effect it will have if the GOP/Teatrolls continune to obstruct and behave like recalcitrant toddlers who don't want to eat their broccoli. The only reason they keep saying that Obama and the Senate have to "propose it first"....despite the law being that it must all originate in the House...is because THEY DON'T WANT THE BLAME. What that really means, in the most basic of basic terms, is the the GOP/Teatrolls love to crow about how they kept control over the House, but THEY DON'T WANT THE RESPONSIBILITY THAT CAME WITH IT.

    February 25, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  20. Sniffit


    Newsflash: And the GOP/Teatrolls only want no results or bad results while a Dem is in the WH. This is a feature, not a bug. They will make a mess of this for as long as they possibly can so that it continues to hurt and hamper the economic recovery.

    February 25, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  21. billmelater1

    If 2% of a 12 percent increases this year crashes the country then we are really in bad shape. It is TIME to call there bluff. I believe the reason the lib's don't want this to happen is because NOTHING will happen and then the people will know.

    February 25, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  22. Ed

    Tony in Maine laments that perhaps the Dems should just give the Repubs everything they want... It is apparent to me that the Dems sure expect the Repubs to give them everything they want. And therein lies the cunandrum. When both sides are saying my way or the highway, nothing gets done.

    February 25, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  23. vic , nashville ,tn

    Local news paper listed 12 programs impacted by spending cuts; spending cuts will affect red districts jobs
    Oh Local republicans are in trouble now

    February 25, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. Anni

    What about Foreign Aid?? Why aren't democrats or republicans or any media asking about foreign aid cuts? I think it's because it is one thing all Americans can agree on-and that doesn't make for political donations or high news ratings: you need controversy for those things.

    February 25, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Some Republicans argue the White House is exaggerating how much Americans would feel the effects of the cuts."

    I see CNN has got its John Boehner talking points memo all copied and ready to go. This show has been a freaking Boehner disaster from the get-go. I don't look for it to get any better while Boehner tries to control his sandbox full of juvenille deliquents otherwise known as MSMs favorite grassroots Tea Party fueled by the millionaire propoganda machine of societal misfits otherwise known as corporate CEOs.

    February 25, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
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