WASHINGTON—The White House is increasing pressure on Republicans to come to the table in an effort to prevent sequestration. A report detailing the potential service cuts and job losses that may occur in each state when the $85 billion in spending cuts kicks in was released Feb. 24.
Republicans remain unmoved, however, saying that they are waiting for a serious discussion on deficit reduction.
“More speeches aren’t going to get us any closer to a balanced budget and the growth and expanded opportunity that will follow. And they certainly aren’t going to make the American people any more willing to accept additional tax hikes,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement Feb. 22.
The state-by-state estimates show how services like education, health, crime prevention and the military will be affected by the cuts, which are scheduled to start Friday, March 1. Details include how many teachers will lose jobs in each state, which public health facilities will be cut back, what crime prevention programs will be reduced and which environmental programs will be slashed.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the cuts could reduce government and private-sector employment by 750,000 jobs in 2013.
“This will have macro-economic consequences, cost hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country and jobs throughout the private sector,” said Jason Furman, principal deputy director of the National Economic Council in a press call Sunday.
Quoting examples from the report, Furman said that in Ohio, John Boehner’s home state, 350 teaching jobs are at risk, and around 34,000 fewer students would be served. In Georgia, over 4,000 children would be without vaccinations, and in Kentucky, 400 fewer victims of domestic violence will be able to receive support.
Some states will be affected more than others. States like Alabama, Texas, Virginia, and Pennsylvania with a strong army presence will be hardest hit, while cuts in the Navy will affect California, Florida, and Virginia.
Transport Secretary Ray LaHood spoke out last week highlighting the impact of the cuts on transportation services.
An estimated $600 million will be cut from the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency that manages the use of the nation’s skies. According to LaHood, that could cause one-day furloughs for around 47,000 employees as well as cuts in staff that could create delays of up to 90 minutes in major airports like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.
“Delays in these major airports will ripple across the country,” LaHood said.
Republicans are expressing little concern about the cuts even as the White House ramps up the pressure with details of the impact.
“They’ve rolled out this great political theater about how cutting less than 3 percent of the federal budget is going to cause all these awful consequences,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Jindal suggested that departments be given the authority to cut spending where they see fit.
Obama appealed to the National Governors Association in remarks at the White House Feb. 25. “While you are in town I hope that you speak with your congressional delegation and remind them what’s at stake,” he told the governors.
Obama said he is willing to make cuts to entitlement programs to reduce the budget deficit, but the cuts must come with tax reforms.
“Democrats like me need to back modest reforms in Medicare,” he said. “I’ve made that commitment.”
“We also need Republicans to adopt the same approach to tax reform that [House] Speaker Boehner championed just two months ago. … Under our concept of tax reform, nobody’s rates would go up, but we’d be able to reduce the deficit by making some tough, smart spending cuts and getting rid of wasteful tax loopholes that benefit the well off and the well-connected,” the president said.
Dr. John Hudak, political analyst with the Brookings Institution, says it is unlikely that a deal between Congress and the White House will be reached before the end of the week.
Hudak believes that once job losses are felt at state and local levels, the pressure to reach an agreement will force a compromise. “These jobs that are most likely to cause fairly serious disruption are also going to be the jobs most likely to push a deal, ultimately,” he said.
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