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ON CAPITOL HILL

Feds want public to feel the pain

Email says to make sure sequestration impact is what was predicted

By Garth Kant

It looks like the Obama administration is making sure ordinary Americans feel the pain of its loss in the sequester battle.

An email appears to direct an official to make cuts as devastating as the administration warned they would be.

The Washington Times obtained an email sent Monday by Charles Brown, an official with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service office in Raleigh, N.C.

The email asked “if there was any latitude” in spreading the sequester cuts across the region and lessening the impacts on fish inspections.

Officials in Washington replied that whatever he does, he needs to make sure he doesn’t contradict “what we said the impact would be.”

The reply explained: “We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that ‘APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 states in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs.’ So it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.”

Before sequestration went into effect Friday, the administration predicted it would be a catastrophe. As WND reported, the public was warned the $85 billion in spending cuts would include the loss of police officers, firefighters, teachers, soldiers, air control towers and shipyards.

Once it became clear the administration would not get the tax increases it demanded and sequestration would go into effect, Obama began downplaying the effects of the automatic spending cuts, even calling the idea of sequestration just “dumb.” Now, it appears the administration wants to make sure its previous threats are realized.

Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., said the email “confirms what many Americans have suspected: The Obama administration is doing everything they can to make sure their worst predictions come true and to maximize the pain of the Sequester cuts for political gain.”

APHIS is part of the Department of Agriculture. At a House committee hearing Tuesday, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about the email. Vilsack said he hadn’t seen it, but he said agencies are supposed to manage the impacts of the spending cuts.

“If we have flexibility, we’re going to try to use it to make sure we use sequester in the most equitable and least disruptive way,” Vilsack testified. “There are some circumstances, and we’ve talked a lot about the meat inspection, where we do not have that flexibility because there are so few accounts.”

The administration had warned inspectors would have to be furloughed, which could reduce supplies of beef, pork and poultry.

Noem said the email seemed to indicate the administration was justifying its warnings by reducing flexibility on how the spending cuts are implemented.

She said, “I’m hopeful that isn’t an agenda that’s been put forward.”

The Washington Times discovered, even with the cuts, that APHIS is still hiring new employees and interns. The agency has posted 24 help-wanted ads, including 22 student internships since Sunday. One seeks a clerk in a New York office, and one seeks three “insect production workers” to grow bollworms in Phoenix.

Still, the administration warns that at least a million federal workers may be taking unpaid time off, due to sequestration. The government has begun sending furlough notices, effective in April.

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