President Barack Obama on Feb. 25 said looming automatic spending cuts are already affecting the economy, while a top administration official warned that the nation’s borders would be less secure if billions of dollars are yanked from the budget March 1.
“The uncertainty is already having an effect,” Obama said. “Companies are preparing layoff notices. Families are preparing to cut back on expenses. The longer these cuts are in place, the bigger the impact will become.”
Despite the urgent rhetoric, there was no indication the White House and congressional Republicans were actively negotiating a deal to avoid the so-called sequester ahead of the end-of-the-week deadline. The last known conversation between Obama and GOP leaders was last week and there have been no in-person meetings between the parties this year.
With Congress back from a weeklong recess, House Speaker John Boehner showed little willingness to move off his long-held position that the sequester be offset through targeted spending cuts, not the package of cuts and tax increases Obama supports.
“Mr. President, you got your tax increase,” Boehner said, referring to the tax rate increases that took effect on Jan. 1. “It’s time to cut spending here in Washington.”
The $85 billion budget-cutting mechanism could affect everything from commercial flights to classrooms to meat inspections. Domestic and defense spending alike would be trimmed, leading to furloughs for hundreds of thousands of government workers and contractors.
The White House continued laying out in stark terms what the cuts would mean for government services, dispatching Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to warn of the implications for critical security functions.
The White House compiled the numbers from federal agencies and its own budget office. The numbers are based only on the $85 billion in cuts for this fiscal year, from March-September, that are set to take effect March 1.
As to whether states could move money around to cover shortfalls, the White House said that depends on state budget structures and the specific programs. The White House did not have a list of which states or programs might have flexibility.
Some examples of how automatic budget cuts could affect Idaho:
— About $3.7 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 50 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition, about 5,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 30 fewer schools would receive funding.
— About $2.9 million in funds for about 30 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.
— About 170 fewer low income students would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and about 40 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.
— Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for about 200 children.
— About $1.2 million to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste.
— About $857,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.
— About 2,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $6.8 million in total.
— About $1.7 million would be cut to operate Army bases, and about $1 million from Air Force operations.
— About $82,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.
— About $280,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 10,490 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.
— Child care for as many as 100 disadvantaged and vulnerable children of working parents.
— About $61,000 for vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B, affecting about 890 children.
— About $150,000 to help the state respond to public health threats such as infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events.
— About $340,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 400 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs.
— About $41,000 for health departments in the state, resulting in about 1,000 fewer HIV tests.
— About $33,000 for services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 100 fewer victims being served.
— About $202,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.