The sequester was not so scary after all. That’s the conclusion the Washington Post reached after surveying a list of scary claims the White House promoted just a few months ago.
Back in February the White House released an intentionally scary state-by-state breakdown of all the terrible things that would happen if the sequester policy (which they had proposed and agreed to) were to take effect. The Washington Post called it “a last-ditch effort to pressure congressional Republicans to compromise.” But Republicans called the President’s bluff and allowed the cuts to go through.
Monday the Washington Post released a review of the actual results of that decision. What they found is that most of the administration’s scary claims were overblown:
There would be one-hour waits at airport security. Four-hour waits at
border crossings. Prison guards would be furloughed for 12 days. FBI
agents, up to 14.
At the Pentagon, the military health program would be unable to
pay its bills for service members. The mayhem would extend even into
the pantries of the neediest Americans: Around the country, 600,000
low-income women and children would be denied federal food aid.
But none of those things happened.
The White House is not done making false claims however. According to the Post “Administration officials say they didn’t exaggerate sequestration’s
effects on purpose. They believed it would be that bad. But then they
got unexpected help from Capitol Hill.”
It is hard to see how the help from Capitol Hill could be unexpected when Republicans openly offered to pass legislation that would allow for exactly the kind of freedom to cut with discretion that was ultimately used to soften the impact. It was the White House that rejected such flexibility in favor of more scare tactics.
The Post notes there were some instances where cuts did have an impact but they are the exception not the rule. In many cases, agencies were able to cut in ways that did not significantly impact their efforts, at least not in a way that could be felt by most of the public.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) sums it up Democrats credibility problem when he tells the Post “they had the doomsday scenario, and the sky didn’t fall.”