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Sat Feb 23, 2013, 10:55 AM

Sequestration Watch -- An Axe to Grind Edition.

Last edited Sat Feb 23, 2013, 11:38 AM - Edit history (1)

There seems to be a gap in the public's understanding of the extent of the cuts called for in sequestration and the Agencies which will be exposed to the cuts.

Some of the cuts are described in this excerpt taken from the GovExec website: http://www.govexec.com/management/cutting-costs/2013/02/if-sequestration-happens-whats-getting-ax/61455/

Note: To anyone who is concerned about Copyright on this material, it's a summary of information taken from here.



"Here are some of the programs that would be pared as part of the sequester, according to a report by the White House Office of Management and Budget and letters from administration officials:

Air Travel: An estimated $619 million would be cut from the operations and facilities and equipment accounts of the Federal Aviation Administration, according to a report by House Appropriations Committee Democrats. This could mean major flight delays and an economic hit on the millions of people who depend on air travel every day.
■ $483 million cut from the FAA operations budget, forcing all FAA employees to be furloughed for 11 days. On any given day, that could mean that 10 percent of the FAA’s 40,000 employees could be on furlough, resulting in longer delays, reduced air-traffic control, and losses in tourism. There will also be a hiring freeze.
■ $136 million cut from the FAA’s facilities and equipment account, which helps maintain and modernize the air-traffic control infrastructure.
■ Transportation Security Administration screeners would receive a seven-day furlough.

National Parks: In order to cut 5 percent of its budget, the National Park Service would have to slash $110 million, according to Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. The NPS has already begun to plan for sequestration by cutting park hours and visitor services in some of the nation’s leading national parks—from Yosemite to the Great Smokey Mountains. The group estimates that over a million visitors to the nation’s 12 leading national parks would experience the effects of the budget cuts, as several of the parks would have to close visitor centers, restrict campsites, limit train access, and delay spring road openings.

The Pentagon: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey, testified before the House Armed Services Committee last week, outlining the major cuts to the Pentagon. Here are some of the looming cuts:
■ Most of the 800,000 civilian employees of the Defense Department will get unpaid leave, called a furlough, for up to 22 days, saving the Pentagon between $4 billion and $5 billion through the rest of the fiscal year.
■ The Navy delayed the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, leaving only one in the region. The Navy also delayed the construction of one carrier and the overhaul of another.
■ Seventy percent of ship maintenance in private shipyards and all aircraft maintenance for the latter of half of this fiscal year will be canceled, which amounts to 25 ships and 327 aircrafts.
■ All ship and aircraft deployments to Africa have been canceled, along with canceling five of six ship deployments to South America.
■ Across-the-board reduction in flight hours
■ To meet its $17 billion shortfall, the Army has to curtail training for 80 percent of its ground forces, implement a hiring freeze and lay off 3,100 temporary and term employees
■ Army base maintenance funds will be cut by 70 percent, while the Air Force will see a 30 percent cut of its weapons maintenance funds
■ In the next fiscal year, 100,000 fewer soldiers will serve in the Army, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve
■ More than 50 percent of Marine tactical units will be below minimum readiness levels
■ TRICARE, which provides health care for active and retired military personnel and their dependents, would get cut by $3 billion for the remainder of the fiscal year.
■ The Coast Guard would reduce its air and surface operations by 25 percent

Health Services: In a letter to Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlined the significant impact to the nation’s health services if sequestration goes into effect.
■ $350 million cut from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
■ 109,000 fewer people in need of critical treatment might not get admitted to inpatient facilities
■ 91,000 fewer people would receive substance abuse treatment
■ 30,000 children without child care services
■ 373,000 seriously ill adults and emotionally disturbed children would not receive treatment
■ 4 million fewer meals would get home delivered to seniors
■ 424,000 fewer HIV tests
■ 540,000 fewer doses of vaccines for the flue, hepatitis and measles, among other diseases
■ $1.6 billion cut for medical research at the National Institutes of Health
■ $120 million cut in federal support for health centers, which could lead to 900,000 fewer patients served
■ $168 million cut in embassy security

Humanitarian Aid: In his first major speech as secretary of State, John Kerry said the budget battles in Washington could hurt the U.S. effort to provide economic and political aid across the world. He underscored those concerns in a letter to Mikulski last week, saying the State Department would have to cut $2.6 billion for this fiscal year. In addition to potentially delaying visa requests and hindering peacekeeping efforts, here are some programs Kerry said could face cuts:
■ $200 million cut in global humanitarian assistance, citing American efforts in Syria, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel
■ $400 million cut in global health funding that fights AIDS and child hunger
■ $500 million cut in security assistance accounts, which goes toward conflict prevention
■ $300 million cut in military assistance to several nations around the world, including Israel, Jordan and Egypt
■ $70 million cut from the operations budget of USAID

Border Security: U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees could get furloughed for 12 to 14 days, which could lead to increased waiting times for border cross and cause flight delays. In addition, 5,000 border patrol agents and 2,750 customs officers would be cut.

Education: If sequestration goes into effect, $406 million would get cut in Head Start programs, resulting in 70,000 children losing access to the service. That would lead to the layoffs of 14,000 teachers, teacher assistants and staff who work in the program.

Disaster Relief: The Federal Emergency Management Agency would receive a $1 billion cut, while also losing over $120 million in homeland security grants.

Law Enforcement: The Department of Justice is being cut $1.6 billion, which will result in furloughs. Addition cuts to law enforcement areas, officials argue, could mean missteps in the judicial system.
■ $550 million cut from the FBI
■ $100 million cut from U.S. attorneys who prosecute criminal and civilian cases
■ $338 million cut from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which leads to furloughs and the suspended activation of two federal prisons
■ 20 percent cut from drug testing and mental health treatment for criminals
■ 30 percent cut in court security systems, which protect people in courtrooms

Additional Cuts: The National Science Foundation ($375 million), the Library of Congress, NASA ($950 million), the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Patent and Trademark office will also receive millions of dollars in cuts

Exemptions: Not all federal government programs are getting the ax. There are several mandatory spending programs that will not see any cuts, including Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, veteran’s benefits and the Children’s Health Insurance Program."



Now, compare this list to the ludicrous list of cuts suggested by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va as "Common Sense" cuts.



Cantor said “waste” in government spending includes:
■ $2.2 billion in 2013 on free cellphones;
■ $51.6 million on promotion of the Affordable Care Act;
■ $4 million on a TV studio run by the Internal Revenue Service;
■“Vacation getaways,” the term Cantor used for the “183 conferences paid for by federal agencies over the last several years cost taxpayers more per attendee than the infamous October 2010 GSA conference in Las Vegas;”
■$1.7 billion in property maintenance on underutilized sites;
■ $100 million in Environmental Protection Agency grants to foreign countries over the past decade;
■ $1.2 million spent by the National Science Foundation so senior citizens could play the videogame “World of Warcraft” to study its impact on the brain; and,
■ $47,000 spent by the Veterans Affairs Department on a cigarette-smoking machine.



$47,000.00? Really?

As you can see, there are only a very few programs, agencies, and personnel who are exempt.
Mainly Social Security, Medicare, and Military Pay.

Oh, but, isn't this whole thing designed to punish Romney's so-called 47%-ers for electing the other guy? Only time will tell...

Stay tuned for the next late breaking Sequestration Watch: The Life of a Political Football Edition.

And as always, if you would like to add a comment or additional posts related to sequestration, please, add a reply to this thread.

10 replies, 1104 views

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Response to Hugin (Original post)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 12:25 PM

1. I personally will hate that the hundreds of thousands of individual workers who support their

families with decent wages will take a reduction or a loss of their job as a result of this game.

But I fear that the fallout will be the only way the TEA and other fanatics ever realize that people, ordinary, working people are behind those government doors.

And the backlash against every elected official that allowed this should be fierce.

So while I'd rather miss it, just like I'd rather miss a hurricane, we may get a new landscape out of it, after much pain and suffering.

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 12:58 PM

2. My concern is that the impact of sequestration is being down played and gamed by the Republicans

to hide it's effects on individuals.

That's why they are trickling out the furloughs.

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Response to Hugin (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 04:26 PM

3. However they play it,

we'll start feeling it in a few weeks.

Don't know what you mean by 'they are trickling out the furloughs.' I suspect, as a retired federal employee, most if not all agencies have issued notices of possible furlough to their employees.

Preparation of employee notices of furlough and processing of personnel and
pay records in connection with furlough actions are essential ...
www.opm.gov/furlough/OMBGuidance/Attachment_A-5.pdf - 19k

'A temporary layoff, involuntary leave or other modification of normal working hours without pay for a specified duration'

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Response to elleng (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 04:59 PM

4. One day a week... or two days a pay period for a total of 22 days in some cases.

Instead of a mass long term furlough which would be noticeable to the public. The use of such incremental furloughs by management has been regulated since 1986.

Note, that according to this decision by the FLRA.

http://www.flra.gov/decisions/v22/22-029.html

"1. In the event OPM uses a limited furlough as a result of the December 15 budget reductions, 30 calendar days or less, such furloughs will be continuous or discontinuous, at the employee's option. The employees to be furloughed will be only the employees for which the union was given notice. "

Which states the scheduling of the furlough is up to the employee and not a choice of management.

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Response to Hugin (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 05:25 PM

5. So clearly they are not doing it this way to 'hide' its effect,

but rather to try to keep things running as best they can, and to make it as reasonable/plannable as can be for the employees.

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Response to elleng (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 24, 2013, 12:48 AM

8. Huh? Since when have the Republicans ever had the best interests of anyone but themselves in mind?

I thought the negative feelings of Republicans toward anything Federal (Employees in particular) had been pretty well laid bare during the last election with the whole 47%-ers video.

There is NO WAY that anything being done has anything to do with "running things" or "for the employees". TPTB don't do those things.

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Response to Hugin (Reply #8)

Sun Feb 24, 2013, 12:53 AM

9. You seem to be missing this:

The Federal Government has RULES about how furloughs must be run, and fortunately these rules were not written by repugs but by Federal employees, at the Office of Personnel Management. See above.

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Response to elleng (Reply #9)

Sun Feb 24, 2013, 01:32 AM

10. Then why are the cuts designed to minimize the political impact of the cuts on Congress?

That is the whole point of "gaming" a system. To use the "rules" of the system to obtain the results you want. I'm sure they followed the "rules" in 1995 as well.

Here's how it goes... The Republicans (Mainly Gingrich) suddenly shut down the Government in 1995. It cost him his "Contract" and ultimately his position. They have wanted to do the same thing ever since. The pieces are in position again, except that this time... They're going to BOIL THE FROG SLOWLY.

Some highlights of the current plan are:

Bleed the government slowly this time. Keep it as quiet as possible and shut down things as gradually as possible. (So, the public is kept fat, dumb, and distracted) Take out those pesky Federal Employees first.

It's divide and conquer... But, slowly this time.

The link I provided above clearly states that how and when the furloughs are taken is up to the individual employee. (Except in cases of National Emergency) I've seen lots of dictatorial direction from Management, but, I've yet to see them asking the Employees.

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Response to Hugin (Original post)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 05:37 PM

6. He forgot 93,090,000 House and Senate Pay

Talk about a waste of money. And if you lay off their staff, that's approx. another 1/2 billion. I believe they're allotted about a million each for staff.

Oh, I forgot. They managed to exempt their pay from the sequester.

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Response to Hugin (Original post)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 09:13 PM

7. Sequester of Fools - PAUL KRUGMAN



"They’re baaack! Just about two years ago, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairmen of the late unlamented debt commission, warned us to expect a terrible fiscal crisis within, um, two years unless we adopted their plan. The crisis hasn’t materialized, but they’re nonetheless back with a new version. And, in case you’re interested, after last year’s election — in which American voters made it clear that they want to preserve the social safety net while raising taxes on the rich — the famous fomenters of fiscal fear have moved to the right, calling for even less revenue and even more spending cuts.

But you aren’t interested, are you? Almost nobody is. Messrs. Bowles and Simpson had their moment — the annus horribilis of 2011, when Washington was in thrall to deficit scolds insisting that, in the face of record-high long-term unemployment and record-low borrowing costs, we forget about jobs and concentrate exclusively on a “grand bargain” that would supposedly (not actually) settle budget disputes for ever after.

That moment has now passed; even Mr. Bowles concedes that the search for a grand bargain is on “life support.” Let’s convene a death panel! But the legacy of that year of living foolishly lives on, in the form of the “sequester,” one of the worst policy ideas in our nation’s history.

Here’s how it happened: Republicans engaged in unprecedented hostage-taking, threatening to push America into default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama agreed to a grand bargain on their terms. Mr. Obama, alas, didn’t stand firm; instead, he tried to buy time. And, somehow, both sides decided that the way to buy time was to create a fiscal doomsday machine that would inflict gratuitous damage on the nation through spending cuts unless a grand bargain was reached. Sure enough, there is no bargain, and the doomsday machine will go off at the end of next week."



More Krugman here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/22/opinion/krugman-sequester-of-fools.html?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

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