US President Barack Obama points to a person viewing his Marine One return on March 5, 2013 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
The White House announced last week that all self-guided tours of the people’s house have been cancelled until further notice due to budget cuts stemming from sequestration.
“Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013 until further notice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours,” the White House said in an email.
Understandably, the president has been roundly mocked for cancelling (of all things) self-guided tours of a publicly funded building.
But now he says it’s not his fault.
"You’ve been taking a lot of heat for this cancellation of the White House tours. They get– the Secret Service says it’s costs about $74,000 a week. Was canceling them really necessary?" asked ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos during an interview that was released Wednesday morning.
"You know, I have to say this was not -- a decision that went up to the White House. But th-- what the Secret Service explained to us was that they’re going to have to furlough some folks. What furloughs mean is– is that people lose a day of work and a day of pay," the president said, per an early transcript of the interview.
"And, you know, the question for them is, you know, how deeply do they have to furlough their staff and is it worth it to make sure that we’ve got White House tours that means that you got a whole bunch of families who are depending on a paycheck who suddenly are seeing -- a five percent or 10 percent – reduction in their pay,” he added.
"Well, what I’m asking them is are there ways, for example, for us to accommodate school groups– you know, who may have traveled here with some bake sales. Can we make sure that– kids, potentially, can– can still come to tour?"
The president continued, explaining how he had nothing to do with the cancelled tours:
But– but– I’m always amused when people on the one hand say -- the sequester doesn’t mean anything and the administration’s exaggerating its effects; and then whatever the specific effects are, they yell and scream and say, “Why are you doin’ that?”
Well, there are consequences to Congress not having come up with a more sensible way to reduce the deficit. And what I’m proposing is if we do it smart, if we do it sensibly, if we do it in a balanced way that the American support, including, by the way, a majority of Republicans, then we don’t have to– do arbitrary stuff. We can do it in an intelligent way that’s gonna improve our economy.
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Featured image the White House.