If any observers thought the White House was bluffing in its dire, even sadistic predictions about the outcome of the sequester, they may be disappointed. A new internal email discovered by the Washington Times suggests that, even if the negative effects of the budget cuts known as “sequestration” can be blunted, the White House has precisely no interest in doing so, most likely because it would undermine their bargaining position with Congress.
The Washington Times reports:
In the email sent Monday by Charles Brown, an official with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service office in Raleigh, N.C., Mr. Brown asked “if there was any latitude” in how to spread the sequester cuts across the region to lessen the impacts on fish inspections.
He said he was discouraged by officials in Washington, who gave him this reply: “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.”
“This email confirms what many Americans have suspected: The Obama administration is doing everything they can to make sure their worst predictions come true and to maximize the pain of the Sequester cuts for political gain,” said Rep. Tim Griffin, Arkansas Republican.[…]
The administration earlier had warned that supplies of beef, pork and poultry could drop this year because slaughterhouse inspectors will have to be furloughed, and under federal law meat can’t be processed without inspectors present.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has, of course, studiously denied the idea that the administration is sacrificing its flexibility in order to make its dire predictions about the outcome of the sequester self-fulfilling prophecies. Nevertheless, the email raises some questions about just how much that flexibility is being applied, even if the person behind it might just be a disgruntled lower level official.
Allies of the administration have been pushing less than likely estimates of the sequester’s impact since before the policy took effect. Most notably, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) predicted that the sequester would cost 170 million jobs, a statistic notable for its mathematical impossibility.