The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

More Hysterics from Organizing for Action

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Just got hold of yet another email from Organizing for Action, President Obama’s perpetual campaign operation, about the sequester.  Stephanie Cutter, the president’s former deputy campaign manager, sent the email to volunteers, lamenting how the nation was forced into the sequester because of GOP’s “obstructionism.”  (As you will recall, the sequester is a process to reduce spending that President Obama and Congress agreed to back in 2011, in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.) She lists some of the “devastating cuts” that are going to occur.  But it seems the press is beginning to catch onto the president’s and his campaign operation’s over-the-top hysterics about the sequester and are pointing out that a lot of the facts and figures they are throwing out are either exaggerations or out-and-out lies.  A good place to check their claims is the Washington Post’s fact checker post, which rates truthfulness from one to four Pinocchios, with four being the worse.  In other words, four Pinocchios is a “whopper” stretching of the truth. Ms. Cutter claims:  The sequester will cut 10,000 teaching jobs. Fact Check:  Arne Duncan got “Four Pinocchios” from the Washington Post’s fact check column for his false claim that pink slips were going out to teachers.  For days the Department of Education couldn't provide examples and when they finally did, it proved inaccurate. Ms. Cutter claims:  70,000 spots for preschoolers in Head Start will be lost. Fact Check:  The Washington Post gives this figure “Two Pinocchios.”  Based on the Post analysis, Head Start was given a huge boost in funding via the stimulus package, which was supposed to be temporary.  However, Head Start got a permanent 7 percent increase by the Administration in their budget proposal.  The sequester begins to “unravel an expansion in the program recently engineered by the administration.” Ms. Cutter claims:  $43 million for food programs for seniors will be cut Fact Check:  CAGW assumes this figures stems from the White House’s website that the sequester will cause “4 million fewer seniors” to receive a meal.  “Meals on Wheels,” a non-profit that receives funding from the government to serve meals to needy seniors, claim in a Huffington Post column that the number of seniors that could be affected is higher and their figure equates to about a $41 million cut.  The Washington Post fact checker points out that the 4 million few seniors figure is a “guesstimate” and notes that in the Obama  Administration budget funding for “senior meals has been flat since 2010, generally resulting in fewer meals.”   Furthermore, the Post also says the “administration has no idea whether the suppliers of these meals will make up the shortfall in other ways; it just assumes that they have no alternative sources of funding.” The Post states, “if you look deeply in the news reports, there are indications that at least for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year, providers have back-up resources.“ The administration got “Two Pinocchio's” for this claim. Ms. Cutter claims:  $35 million for local fire departments will be cut back. Fact Check:  CAGW couldn't find a specific rebuttal to this claim although PolitiFact points out that federal funds are a very small portion of most fire departments’ budgets and that most of their funding comes from local governments.  Any reduction in force within a fire department is far more likely to come from funding issues at the local level.  CAGW took a look at figures provided in a recent report by the National Fire Protection Association (see page 29.)  The NFPA’s most recent number on direct expenditures of the estimated 30,145 fire departments in the U.S. is $40.3 billion.  The “horrendous” sequester cut represents 0.086 percent of their total budgets. Ms. Cutter goes on to say that the ONLY reason Republicans allowed the sequestration go into effect is they “simply wouldn't support closing tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires -- for things like yachts and corporate jets. I wish I were kidding.” Ah sorry Steph…not exactly.  Republicans have said they will close loopholes but only in exchange for real tax reform that lowers tax rates for everyone.    

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