Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fearing Sequester

The deadline is March 1.  And nothing adverse may happen on March 2 aside from harsh rhetoric.

Despite the fear-mongering the kick-in of Armegeddon is in dispute should they cross the rubicon.  That's because there are laws in place that govern furloughs. Most federal workers require a 30 day notice before actually being laid-off, and since many agencies haven't sent these notices out yet, waiting to see what happens on March 1, then nothing draconian can occur until around April.

Additionally, the Continuing Resolution to fund the government runs out on March 31st.  Few are making an issue out of the time offset, but it's huge.  If the CR runs out and is not extended the government completely shuts down.  EVERYBODY is furloughed.  That's what happened when Gingrich failed to submit a budget or a CR to Bill Clinton in 1995.  Yet emergency employees remained on the job back then, which they were later paid back-pay.  Boehner could also play this card if he went into Dr. Evil mode, but he won't.  

Even so, he could agree to a so-called buy down of the sequester, kicking the can into the next government fiscal year in October, but there will still need to be legislation to keep the government running at the end of March unless they rolled it into one deal.  But why would Boehner throw away all his cards at once?

Put it this way.  The administration is asking Boehner to...

1.  Raise taxes two times within three months just to end a sequester Obama wanted, and
2.  Extend the Continuing Resolution in the process, taking away the March 31 showdown, without getting a thing for it. 

Meanwhile, the press was their usual timid self today in the White House briefing, allowing the spokesgoofball to drone on and on about his talking points.  But there were a couple of shining moments.  First, Ed Henry from Fox News..
Q Before the election, though, the White House tried to stop those furlough notices -- right before the election.
MR. CARNEY: We were hopeful -- well, first of all, before the election -- the election was, what, November 6th, November 8th? That was not 10 days before implementation of the sequester. That’s one.
Actually, as government contractors under the WARN Act they were compelled to notify their employees 90 days before any cuts were expected. Henry failed to follow up on that one.  That also brings into question the current situation--are the defense contractors getting a 90 day notice?  If so, they won't be laid off for awhile per the law. 

Here's an unknown but courageous journalist asking Carney how many White House employees might lose their jobs from sequestration:
Q Two quick questions. Does the White House have any estimate about White House jobs that may be lost or furloughed?
MR. CARNEY: I’ll have to take the question and refer you to OMB.
Q If you can get back to us on that?
Q Really get back to us.
MR. CARNEY: I’m looking forward to -- no. (Laughter.) I’ll have to take that question.
Q And would he cancel his trip to the Middle East if the --
MR. CARNEY: I’m not going to speculate.
Q Well, you have to plan.
MR. CARNEY: I’m not going to speculate. We believe Congress should act next week to avoid the sequester. It is inherently the right thing to do, using -- if you just look at what the Speaker of the House himself has said all on different occasions about the terrible consequences of the sequester to our national defense and to jobs, it makes the point -- he makes the point, as the President has made and others have made, that Congress should take the appropriate action to avoid the sequester so that Congress can then proceed to deal with our larger budget challenges. Donovan.
Q But you don’t rule out canceling the trip?
Q Yes, if you could get back to me --
MR. CARNEY: We have no schedule changes to make or announce.
Q If you could get back to me about the White House job numbers and planning process, that would be great. Separately, North Korea has released --
MR. CARNEY: I could also encourage you to call OMB, but we’ll do both.

What a great question.  They certainly aren't fear-mongering about White House cuts or cuts to the president's trip schedule.   Why not include Congress in the furloughs, too, although there is probably some obscure law that says they are immune.  By the way notice how snotty he was to this reporter, the second day in a row he's been engaging in a kind of war on women who ask tough questions.  Yesterday he dismissed a CNN reporter as a 'fill in' for asking whether Obama himself invented the sequester.  Ann Compton has some thoughts

Finally, before he left the room he was taken to task for constantly demonizing corporate jets in trying to get Boehner to raise taxes.  Nobody ever points out the job losses that would come from getting rid of energy and airplane manufacturing subsidies, but this reporter did:
Q About the tax-exempt status of the corporate jets -- there are tens of thousands of people who are middle-class workers who work in corporate aviation. My question is -- including several tens of thousands in Kansas, Washington, Oklahoma. They are very worried about the President's comments about eliminating the tax exemption because in their words, every time it's been eliminated before, there has been layoffs. And there have been thousands of layoffs in Kansas since the President started mentioning this in the corporate aviation area. These are middle-class workers. What would you say to them?
MR. CARNEY: I would say that making budgets and choices about deficit reduction always involves difficult choices, and that when it's a choice between laying teachers off or affecting our national security or, in the broader scheme, reforming our tax code in a way that eliminates these tax breaks -- special interest tax breaks or subsidies, that is a better option than voucherizing Medicare or cutting education investment or throwing people -- kids off of Head Start. I think that --
Q The guy that lost his job last week -- or last June --
MR. CARNEY: No, I understand --
Q -- he left me a message and said, I lost my job because of this. I'm sure -- I mean, he supports a family.
MR. CARNEY: Again, I think that the question here is what choices do we make, and do we choose to protect narrow, special interest loopholes that, by the way, the Speaker of the House said just late last year, there were so many of them that he could come up with $800 billion in revenues that he would direct towards deficit reduction just by closing loopholes like that and capping deductions like the ones we've discussed. I don’t doubt that there are benefits that are enjoyed by companies and others that flow from these loopholes and special provisions in the tax code. But the broader interest here is in making choices that are fair for everyone in the way that we reduce our deficit. And closing --
Q -- the middle class is employed, so it will affect them.
MR. CARNEY: I take your point. I think I've answered the question, which is that we have to make choices here. And I think that, overwhelmingly, a decision to close a special interest tax break as opposed to throwing 70,000 kids off of Head Start is a pretty clear choice. None of these are cost-free, but it's a pretty clear choice.
So there you go--they are willing to take some middle class job losses to realize their agenda of maintaining payments to illegal aliens.  Just for the record.

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