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At campaign stop after campaign stop over the past few weeks, Barack Obama has warned parents will have to “scramble” to find child care and the nation’s security would be endangered because of the sequester, which he originally proposed.
He also said waiting lines at airports would be massive because of the mandatory budget cuts that he set up.
On Monday, heading into the first full week after sequester kicked in, Obama’s Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano, had an “I told you so” message.
Lines, she said, were “150 to 200 percent as long as we would normally expect” at airports.
She warned, “We’re already seeing the effects at some of the ports of entry, the big airports, for example.”
However, an airport website reported that across the nation, the wait times in security lines were roughly 15 minutes, and airport officials in Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta said there had been no slowdowns at all.
So what’s up?
Paul Roderick Gregory wrote in Forbes under the headline “White House Admits (Third Time) President Obama Fibbed on Sequester.”
“President Obama cannot juggle all these untruths in the air at once. His blame-the-Republicans narrative is crumbling. He is holding the 30 survivors of the Benghazi attack out of reach of the press, but a stubborn Congress or an enterprising Breitbart reporter may break through the wall. Non-partisan organizations like the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office publish their tables and appendices in excel so that skeptics can check claims of $4 billion in debt reduction and that Obamacare does not add to the deficit.”
Even as the deadline for the imposition of the sequester approached, Obama already had been backing off the dire threats he had been issuing for weeks.
He even said the sequester is “dumb” but it’s “not going to be an apocalypse.”
The $85 billion in automatic spending cuts started kicking in over the weekend when Obama failed to reach a budget agreement with Congress, prompting Obama to blame the Republicans, even though he originated the idea.
“I am not a dictator,” Obama said Friday, explaining he can’t lock leaders in a room to make a deal.
“So ultimately if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say, ‘I have to catch a plane,’ I can’t have Secret Service block the doorway,” he said.
And even as furlough notices were starting to go out to American government employees today, Secretary of State John Kerry promised Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney was busy defending the president’s position on the dispute.
“The imposition of the sequester will have serious consequences for middle-class Americans across the country,” he said. “The sequester will have serious consequences for Defense Department contractors, civilian workers, and for our defense readiness. It will have serious consequences for families whose child will lose a Head Start slot, for workers on the border — border security agents, for air traffic controllers who will have their hours cut.”
He said Obama would continue to use the talking points in his appearances around the country because the sequester is “bad for the country.”
“It’s unnecessary. It’s a self-inflicted wound on the economy,” he said. “But we’ll also continue to work on those things that the American people expect us to work on – on creating jobs, growing the economy, making sure that we get comprehensive immigration reform, making sure that we move forward towards getting a comprehensive set of initiatives in place to reduce gun violence, and other things.”
The stalemate centers on the fact that Obama obtained more than $600 billion in tax increases Jan. 1, and Republicans now want spending cuts. Obama is insisting on further tax increases.
Carney said the impact of the sequester on “regular folks” already are being seen.
There are those who “are trying to make ends meet but are finding out through warn notices or other advisories that they may lose their jobs, or they’re going to lose some of their pay, or they’re going to be furloughed,” Carney said.
Rick Newman wrote in U.S. News, however, that the dire threats of policemen, firefighters and others losing jobs appeared to be less than accurate.
“Where’s the wipeout?” he wrote. “Now that the federal spending cuts known as the sequester are finally in place, isn’t mayhem supposed to erupt? After all, President Barack Obama warned of long airport lines, unpaid janitors, furloughed teachers and hundreds of thousands of other lost jobs if the cuts went into effect.”
He continued, “Obama surely knew he was exaggerating to some extent, which is why administration officials are now backtracking and saying they never felt the sequester would causing searing pain on Day 1, or even Day 10.”
He said the actual impact remains to be seen.
The next crisis, however, isn’t far away, he said.
“The real deadline investors are watching is March 27, when current funding for government operations runs out. If Congress does nothing to authorize further funding, the government will shut down.”