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White House warns of sequestration damage across government

Feb. 8, 2013 - 04:42PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
The White House released a fact sheet Friday afternoon spelling out the troubling consequences of sequestration, and how the steep budget cuts would hamper the government's effectiveness.
The White House released a fact sheet Friday afternoon spelling out the troubling consequences of sequestration, and how the steep budget cuts would hamper the government's effectiveness. (File)

If sequestration takes effect March 1, more than 1,000 FBI and other federal law enforcement agents would be sidelined, hundreds of federal prosecutors and thousands of food safety inspectors would be furloughed, and widespread furloughs at the IRS would leave millions of taxpayers unable to get answers from IRS call centers as the April 15 tax deadline approaches, according to the White House.

The White House released a fact sheet Friday afternoon spelling out the troubling consequences of sequestration, and how the steep budget cuts would hamper the government’s effectiveness.

With the $85 billion in sequestration cuts compressed into seven months instead of an entire year, the White House said defense programs will effectively be cut by 13 percent, and nondefense programs will be cut by 9 percent.

“Sequestration would create a serious crisis in military readiness and pose the risk of creating a hollow force by undercutting the essential services, equipment and support our armed forces rely on,” Office of Management and Budget Controller Danny Werfel said at the White House’s press briefing Friday. “But the impacts on our domestic priorities as a nation would be just as severe.”

Reduced staffing at the FBI and other law enforcement would hurt the government’s ability to fight violent and financial crime, secure borders, and protect national security, the fact sheet said.

Other threats, according to the fact sheet:

• Furloughing hundreds of Justice Department prosecutors would result in about 1,000 fewer criminal prosecutions. Justice also would not be able to pursue some civil cases that could win the United States billions of dollars.

• The Food and Drug Administration could be forced to conduct 2,100 fewer inspections at domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture food products. And the Food Safety and Inspection Service may have to furlough all 9,900 of its employees for about two weeks. The loss of those inspectors could result in more outbreaks of salmonella, E. coli, and other foodborne illnesses.

• The Occupational Safety and Health Administration could be forced to furlough its inspectors for an unspecified period, which would result in about 1,200 fewer inspections of dangerous workplaces. That could lead to an increase in worker injuries and fatalities.

Colleen Kelley, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said the newly released information shows why avoiding sequestration is so important.

“The administration’s fact sheet is a look into a reality our country can and must avoid,” Kelley said. “There are those in Congress to whom sequestration is just another political bargaining chip. The realities laid bare by this fact sheet clearly show that sequestration would be a disaster, and would slow economic growth and job creation.”

House Speaker John Boehner’s office said in a blog post that Republicans agree the sequester is misguided and harmful.

“But the question remains: What is President Obama willing to DO to prevent it?” Boehner’s office said. “Without a plan to prevent his sequester, the president is out of excuses.”

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