ABC News To WH: Are You Exaggerating Sequester Damage?

ABC News White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl questioned Press Secretary Jay Carney on Obama's sequester predictions:

KARL: Jay, even before we heard from Secretary LaHood, we’ve heard some dire warnings coming from the administration. Just to tick through a few, we’ve heard about more wildfires, more workplace deaths, higher risk of terrorism, criminals set free. Is there any exaggeration going on here?

MR. CARNEY: I think all of those things come from reduced numbers of people fighting fires, reduced numbers of people doing inspections of our food, reduced numbers of people engaging in air traffic control. I mean, those are just the facts, Jon.

KARL: No other way to squeeze 3 percent out of the federal budget?

MR. CARNEY: I think we had this colloquy yesterday. The fact of the matter is that you are talking about a 13 percent cut in our defense budget and 9 percent cut in our nondefense discretionary budget this year. And there is no way to do that, based on the way the law is written, without having hugely negative impacts on individuals and families. Furloughs would have to happen. Layoffs would have to happen. That is a fact. And it’s not just us saying this. You don't believe us, maybe you believe the CBO. Maybe you believe Macroeconomics Advisers or Moody’s. They have projected fully a half a percentage point reduction in GDP growth. And you know, because you cover this stuff, what that means economically. They have projected three-quarters of a million people will lose their jobs if the sequester takes effect and stays in effect.

Those are real-world consequences. These are real people. It’s not political leverage. It’s a fact. And we’re out there making clear that this is an important issue to deal with because of the real-world implications. The reason why the President continues to put forward and we made clear again on paper what we have been making clear all along, the President’s very reasonable offer remains on the table because he wants to avoid this.

Let’s just, again, go back to my basic point. It is not an easy sell to Democrats to go along as part of a big deal with superlative CPI. It is not an easy argument necessarily to get Democrats to go along with the reforms that the President has put in place in his proposal on entitlement reforms or with the spending cuts. It was not easy to sign into law $1.1 trillion in spending cuts. But he has done it, and Democrats have done it. And what we haven’t seen from Republicans is anything equivalent. And we’re just looking for a negotiating partner here. We’re just looking for somebody to meet us halfway.

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