WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The Obama administration has incorrectly stated on three separate occasions the effect of the $85 billion in sequester cuts.
CBS News reports that the statements came over the past 10 days.
The first time came Feb. 24 when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said on “Face the Nation” that teachers were getting fired because of the cuts.
“There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall,” Duncan said. He later backtracked, saying he “misspoke” when no evidence was found to his claim.
When President Obama held a press conference about the sequester cuts on Friday, the president said that janitors at the U.S. Capitol would have to receive a pay cut. CBS News reports that Carlos Elias, the superintendent of the U.S. Capitol building and the Capitol Visitors Center, had to email his employees after Obama’s statement saying it wasn’t true.
Then, this past Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that lines at airports grew by 200 percent at checkpoint lines, but those claims were also unfounded.
Despite the misstatements, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says there are efforts “to muddy” the facts of what the sequester cuts mean.
“[T]here are real people out there who will be delayed or who will have their wages cut or … who will lose their jobs as a result of the sequester, while folks in Washington are arguing over whether this particular impact happened when we said it was going to happen or a week later or a month later,” Carney said during Tuesday’s White House briefing.
Dan Schnur, Sen. John McCain’s former communications director, said these statements will create a “skeptical” view of the White House.
“There’s more than a little bit of a White House-who-cried-wolf danger that’s beginning to emerge,” Schnur told CBS News. “If the sequester does eventually cause serious inconvenience or real pain to many people, these overstatements may not have much of a long-term impact. But in the short run, it makes the voters more skeptical as to whether the administration is being honest with them.”
The sequester cuts became official March 1 after Obama and congressional lawmakers failed to reach a deal to reduce the national deficit. The $85 billion in federal budget cuts will take place over the next six months.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the sequester cuts could mean 750,000 jobs lost by the end of the year.
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