Calling the sequestration bluff
A few scenes of Sequestration Terror walkback, as zero hour approaches and the Administration realizes it can’t keep the shrill hysteria going. First up, courtesy of the Washington Post, Arne Duncan becomes the latest to suffer blowback for abusing the word “literally”:
“There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
When he was pressed in a White House briefing Wednesday to come up with an example, Duncan named a single county in West Virginia and acknowledged, “whether it’s all sequester-related, I don’t know.”
And, as it turns out, it isn’t.
Officials in Kanawha County, West Virginia say that the “transfer notices” sent to at least 104 educators had more to do with a separate matter that involves a change in the way West Virginia allocates federal dollars designated for poor children.
Whoops! Well, how about those constant Obama threats that our airports will become quagmires due to sequester-imposed 90-minute flight delays? House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chair Bill Shuster got together with John Thune, ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, to call that bluff.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta had to admit, “I can’t tell you with precision that it would be 90 minutes every day.” The agency still can’t figure out exactly how it will handle the sequestration cuts, but Huerta conceded they have considerable flexibility for dealing with them – so the predictions of air-travel stasis are, to say the least, premature.
It’s odd that these agencies seem so taken aback by reductions in the rate of spending growth they’ve been expecting since 2011, isn’t it? Too bad they don’t have some sort of top-level leadership that could have prepared them for the coming ripples of fiscal restraint.