Democrats spent weeks before and months after the sequester last year claiming that Republicans were somehow laying waste to the federal government with the budget cuts contained in the deal. But despite the doomsday scenarios, it is now reported that only one government employee was laid off.
The budget sequestration of 2013 was an agreement made between Congress and the White House that implemented certain cuts to the federal budget unless certain criteria were met.
While Democrats initially agreed with the policy, as the time for implementation came near, party members and President Obama began to raise fears that sequestration would somehow gut the federal government, causing all sorts of calamities.
As it turns out, however, only one job was lost among the 23 federal agencies affected by the sequestration cuts. A single employee of the U.S. Parole Commission was laid off during the period.
Now Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) wants to know why the administration was so full of political spin in claiming that the federal government would have to fire hundreds if not thousands of employees and that an untold number, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of everyday Americans would be hurt.
In a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Sylvia Matthews Burwell, Senator Coburn said:
Despite relentless warnings about the dire consequences of sequestration’s budget cuts, it appears sequestration resulted in only one layoff. While that’s good news for federal employees and other workers, it is devastating to the credibility of Washington politicians and administration officials who spent months – and millions of dollars – engaging in a coordinated multi-agency cabinet-level public relations campaign to scare the American people. Taxpayers expect us to root our predictions in fact, not ideology and spin.
OMB spokesman Steve Posner responded discounting Coburn’s characterization of the cuts, saying that there is “no question” the sequestration has had an negative impact on the country.
But last year during the run up to the sequestration cuts, Obama used the incident to excoriate Republicans and to raise money for his campaign machinery.
In February, for instance, Obama warned that the sequestration cuts were “not an abstraction.” He went on saying, “people will lose their jobs.”
Obama also accused Republicans of not caring about average Americans and protecting only “the rich.”
“So far at least, the ideas that the Republicans have proposed ask nothing of the wealthiest Americans or the biggest corporations,” Obama said. “So the burden is all on the first responders, or seniors or middle class families.”
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) went even further than Obama by claiming that the sequester was going to kill “1.6 million jobs.” In fact, in August of last year he claimed that the cuts already had cost 1.6 million jobs.
Now we find that the final grand total is one job lost.
Meanwhile, in his letter, Coburn reminded the nation of the two most cited government estimates by Goldman Sachs and the Congressional Budget Office predicting a loss of between 99,999 and 1,599,999 jobs. As Coburn dryly notes in his letter, those estimates were way off base.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org