Yesterday, in its continuing quest to make the sequester seem worse than it actually has turned out to be, the Obama Administration announced that it would cancel White House tours. It blamed the sequester cuts for the decision. This is absurd. First, realize that White House tours are self-guided.
After passing through security, a visitor follows a roped-off path through the public rooms of the White House. There are a few staff stationed along the way, making sure the line moves and that no one tries to cross the velvet-roped barrier.
The maintenance of the public areas of the White House is handled by the staff of the Executive Residence. Its annual budget is around $13 million and it employs 96 people. Under the sequester, it has to trim around $650,000 from its budget between March 1 and September 30th.
There is simply no logical, nor budgetary, reason to cancel the self-guided tours. The White House has simply chosen to focus the sequester cuts in a way to maximize public attention. The Dickensian warnings they issued in the days leading up to the sequester have turned out to be a political fable. Obama, as a result, is using whatever tools he has to magnify the impact of the cuts.
He is doing a disservice to the country.