The descriptions of the post-sequester landscape coming from the Obama administration have been alarming, specific — and, in at least some cases, hyped.
Take the claim by Education Secretary Arne Duncan that there are “literally teachers now who are getting pink slips.”
When he was pressed in a White House briefing Wednesday to name an example, Duncan came up with one school district, in West Virginia, and he acknowledged, “Whether it’s all sequester-related, I don’t know.”
As it turns out, it isn’t. What Kanawha County is actually doing is sending transfer notices to 104 educators in response to an unrelated change in the way federal dollars are allocated.
“It’s not like we’re cutting people’s jobs at this point,” said Pam Padon, who administers the county’s federal aid for poor students. “This is not due to sequestration.”
Despite the reams of fact sheets the White House has been putting out, no one really knows how bad things are likely to get — including Republicans who have criticized the president for exaggerating the effects.
Simple arithmetic can show the impact on some programs — the checks the federal government sends to unemployed people will be smaller, for instance.
But many of the reductions, such as those in education spending, will not be felt for months in most school systems, which gives individual districts some time to make adjustments and allowances for the lost funds.