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The Manufactured Sequester Crisis



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I just landed in New York from Washington. As we landed, on time according to my itinerary, the pilot apologized for the delays caused by the sequester cuts and their impact on traffic controllers. The people around me seemed very unconvinced by the announcement. I’ve written  before about the FAA’s sequester strategy and its resulting impact on a large number of employees and public. Interestingly, the Washington Times reports this morning about e-mails that show that the administration seems to be instructing agencies to make the sequester cuts as painful as possible:

In the internal email, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service official Charles Brown said he asked if he could try to spread out the sequester cuts in his region to minimize the impact, and he said he was told not to do anything that would lessen the dire impacts Congress had been warned of.

“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,” Mr. Brown, in the internal email, said his superiors told him.

Neither Mr. Brown nor the main APHIS office in Washington returned calls seeking comment, but Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack, who oversees the agency, told Congress he is trying to give flexibility where he can.

Also, DHS secretary Janet Napolitano has been exposed for falsely claiming that LAX, among other airports, was experiencing long delays because of the cuts, despite the lack of evidence for such slowdowns:

Officials with airports cited by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as examples of how the sequester would delay airline travelers say she’s wrong — they’re not delaying flights one bit.

“We haven’t had any slowdowns at all,” said Marshall Lowe, a spokesman for Los Angeles International Airport, one of the airports named by Ms. Napolitano, The Telegraph reported. Mr. Lowe added that he had been on duty all weekend — and even then, there were no reports of the security delays Ms. Napolitano warned was occurring as a result of mandated budget cuts.

Ms. Napolitano also cited Chicago’s O’Hare and Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson airports as suffering from security checkpoint lines that were “150 to 200 percent as long as we would normally expect” at a recent meeting to discuss sequester fallout. Specifically, she said: “We’re already seeing the effects at some of the ports of entry, the big airports, for example. Some of them had very long lines this weekend,” The Telegraph reported. 

The Telegraph reported Tuesday, however, that officials with these very same airports denied that there were longer lines or airline delays.

I guess the administration assumed this wouldn’t backfire. Maybe if the American people come to realize the White House may have orchestrated such delays and aggravations, they might start questioning other government interventions in our lives.



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