White House Report Blasts Sequestration Cuts as Irresponsible Way to Handle Deficit

September 17, 2012

by Jeremy Leaming

Draconian national budget cuts are set to take place in January if Congress can’t hammer out a budget deal before then. The 2011 Budget Control Act includes a sequester provision that implements across-the-board cuts, unless a budget deal is reached.

Late last week the White House announced a report by the Office of Management and Budget detailing sequestration for fiscal year 2013. According to the Professional Services Council, nondefense agencies would suffer $39 billion “in top-line budget cuts” if sequestration kicks in, reports Charles S. Clark for Government Executive. The Council says the Department of Health and Human Services would hit with $6.2 billion cut and the Department of Justice a $2.1 billion slash.

OMB’s lengthy report, close to 400 pages, blasts sequestration in its introduction, calling it a “blunt and indiscriminate instrument.” OMB continues, “It is not the responsible way for our Nation to achieve deficit reduction.” Despite its estimates being “preliminary,” OMB says its report “leaves no question that the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions.”  

Sequestration, which could still be avoided by congressional action, “would undermine investments vital to economic growth, threaten the safety and security of the American people, and cause severe harm to programs that benefit the middle-class, seniors, and children,” OMB warns it its report. “Education grants to the States and local school districts supporting smaller classes, afterschool programs, and children with disabilities would suffer.”

Earlier this year, Federal Times reported that sequestration would lead to nearly “86 percent of the Justice Department’s workforce furloughed for an average of five weeks ….”

Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured) told a Senate panel earlier this year that sequestration would undermine the work of the DOJ in both Washington and its field offices. “It would be something that would just simply be devastating,” he said.

President of the National Treasury Employees Union Colleen Kelley told Government Executive that sequestration would severely impact the lives of federal workers but also harm those seeking public services. People, she said, “could soon go to the government offices and find longer waits and shorter hours, while out-of-work federal employees will only add to the long unemployment lines and the burden on local communities and state governments.”

David Dayen for FDL notes highlights of the OMB’s report on the “deeply destructive” cuts.