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Entries in Spending Cuts (119)

Wednesday
Mar062013

Poll: Most Back Sequester Cuts Overall, But Not for Military

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For all the dire warnings, most Americans welcome a five percent cut in overall federal spending this year. But the defense budget is another matter.

The public by nearly 2-1, 61-33 percent, supports cutting the overall budget along the lines of the sequester that took effect last Friday. But by nearly an identical margin, Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll oppose an eight percent across-the-board cut in military spending.

See a PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

These views come before the $85 billion in cuts this year have taken hold, leaving open the question of how the public will respond once the reductions hit home. Nonetheless, the results suggest that warnings about the nation’s military readiness have resonated, while the public is more skeptical about the damage the sequester poses to federal programs more generally.

Support for a five percent reduction in federal spending crosses party lines in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates; it includes 57 percent of Democrats, six in 10 independents and three-quarters of Republicans. Shaving eight percent off the military budget, on the other hand, is opposed by 73 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of independents, with Democrats split down the middle.

Strength of sentiment also lands squarely in favor of overall budget cuts, and against those to the military. Strong support for overall cuts outpaces strong opposition by 15 percentage points, while it’s the opposite, by 25 points, when it comes to military spending.

Republicans feel more strongly about reducing overall spending, with 55 percent strongly in favor, 19 and 34 points greater than strong sentiment among independents and Democrats, respectively. Republicans and independents more strongly defend the defense budget compared with Democrats, by 25 and 16 points, respectively.

CUTS – The public’s willingness to cut federal spending overall likely reflects continued concerns about the deficit, as well as frustration with Washington’s ongoing budget wrangles. In an ABC/Post poll in January nearly nine in 10 Americans rated reducing federal spending as a high priority for the president and Congress, in the mix with other top issues such as restoring the economy and restructuring the tax system.

However, a December ABC/Post poll during the “fiscal cliff” negotiations found that majorities didn’t want to cut military spending in order to reach a budget agreement. (Most also opposed cutting Medicare, which also is hit by sequestration, and Medicaid and Social Security, which are spared the sequestration cuts.)

ABC/Post polling also has found a continued preference for a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit, as well as greater approval for Obama vs. the Republicans in Congress on handling federal spending, as reported in an ABC/Post poll last week. That suggests risk for both sides, but particularly the GOP, if the mood over sequestration cuts turns sour.

It’s worth noting, too, that support for budget cuts in general may be easier to express than support for cuts in particular programs -- again raising the question of the direction of public attitudes as specific cuts take hold.

There have been different estimates of the extent of sequestration cuts this year; the figures of five percent in total, and eight percent of military spending, were reported by The New York Times on Feb. 21.

GROUPS – In addition to partisan divisions, there are differences on views of the cuts among ideological and other groups. Liberals divide on both kinds of across-the-board spending cuts, while nearly six in 10 moderates and just more than seven in 10 conservatives support overall cuts and oppose military cuts. Among those who say they’re “very” conservative, almost two-thirds strongly favor overall cuts and strongly oppose those to defense.

Among other groups, men are 16 points more apt than women to support reducing the federal budget overall, and support for cuts generally also is higher among whites vs. nonwhites and college graduates vs. those with less education.

There’s also an interesting dynamic among income brackets. People earning less than $50,000 a year are less supportive of overall budget cuts, compared with better-off adults.  But on military spending, views differ -- support for cuts peaks among wealthier Americans, those with incomes of $100,000 or more.

Finally, this poll finds support for overall cuts nine points higher when the question comes after asking about military cuts (66 vs. 57 percent) -- majorities in both cases, but suggesting more acceptance of overall cuts if the military takes a hit, too. On the other hand, views on military cuts are similar regardless of question order.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar022013

Obama's Weekly Address: Yet Another Call For Compromise On The Sequester

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The morning after $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts kicked in, President Obama is calling once more for lawmakers to compromise to halt the damaging impact the sequester will have on the nation’s economy.

“These cuts are not smart.  They will hurt our economy and cost us jobs.  And Congress can turn them off at any time – as soon as both sides are willing to compromise,” Obama says in his weekly address.

The president warns that “not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away” but that “the pain will be real.”  
 
“Beginning this week, businesses that work with the military will have to lay folks off.  Communities near military bases will take a serious blow.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans who serve their country – Border Patrol agents, FBI agents, civilians who work for the Defense Department – will see their wages cut and their hours reduced,” he explains.

“Here’s the thing: none of this is necessary,” he says. “It’s happening because Republicans in Congress chose this outcome over closing a single wasteful tax loophole that helps reduce the deficit.  Just this week, they decided that protecting special interest tax breaks for the well-off and well-connected is more important than protecting our military and middle-class families from these cuts.”

The president is calling for a “balanced approach” of spending cuts and tax increases to replace the sequester. Republicans, however, insist that new tax revenue is off the table.

“I know there are Republicans in Congress who would actually rather see tax loopholes closed than let these cuts go through.  And I know there are Democrats who’d rather do smart entitlement reform than let these cuts go through.  There’s a caucus of common sense.  And I’m going to keep reaching out to them to fix this for good,” Obama concludes.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb262013

Sequester Timeline: When Will Cuts Be Felt?

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Little is known about when, exactly, the “sequester” will wreak its expected havoc on the nation, but the process begins on Friday.

Each federal agency will implement its cuts differently, on its own timeline, and the White House Office of Management and Budget tells ABC News it does not have a calendar for what cuts will happen when.

But we can guess that some of the worst purported consequences -- of which agency heads have warned repeatedly -- will come as a result of furloughs for government workers.  

Mandatory days off for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents and air-traffic controllers will mean logjammed air travel, and fewer border patrol agents on duty will mean a more porous border, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have said.  Those furloughs will begin in April.

With that in mind, here’s a basic timeline:

March 1 -- Sequestration goes into effect.  Barring a large deficit-reduction deal, or an agreement to cancel the sequester altogether, President Obama will be required to issue a sequestration order before midnight on March 1.  His Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will submit a report to Congress.  Federal agencies, which have already been drafting their sequestration plans according to the OMB, will begin operating at reduced funding levels.  The cuts will happen.

March 4 -- Furlough notices issued.  If Obama gives his order late at night on Friday, March 1, agencies could give notice to employees on the following Monday (March 4) that furloughs will be coming.  Furloughed employees must be notified a month in advance, in most cases, according to Office of Personnel Management guidelines.  Agencies can issue these notices before March 1, so it’s possible federal employees will get word of furloughs this week.  Agencies could also wait to issue furlough notices, hoping that a deficit deal comes quickly.

March 27 -- The government runs out of money, or a new funding measure is passed.  The federal government is currently being funded by a temporary measure that expires on March 27.  Congress and Obama will have to approve more funding in March, and while they’ve previously opted to continue the same funding levels, the March 27 deadline could provide a convenient time for them to strike a deficit deal, or at least modify the sequestration law to target the cuts differently.

April 4 -- Furloughs can begin, consequences are felt.  This date is not definite, but it’s a best guess.  A wide array of agency-specific factors could mean different kinds of federal workers are furloughed at different times, according to an OMB official, but a 30-day notification timeline is the general rule -- meaning government employees would start missing work a month after notices go out March 4.

It’s not as if the entire federal government will shut its doors.  Many furloughed employees will miss one day every two weeks -- the Federal Aviation Administration, for instance, plans on cutting its workforce by that amount.  

But if the heads of federal agencies are to be believed, Americans can expect longer waits in the TSA line, fewer commercial flights, a more porous border, fewer workplace inspections, less meat and poultry production, and a host of miserable consequences arising from furloughed TSA workers, air traffic controllers, border-patrol agents, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb252013

Jindal to Obama: ‘Stop Scaring the American People’

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Gov. Bobby Jindal barely had time to finish dessert in the State Dining Room before he came to cameras on the North Drive of the White House to accuse his lunch host of fear-mongering about impending spending cuts.

“He’s trying to scare the American people. He’s trying to distort the impact,” Jindal said. “The president needs to stop campaigning. Stop trying to scare the American people.”

The Louisiana Republican delivered his criticism of President Obama just steps away from the Oval Office following a lunch hosted by the president for governors of all 50 states. He used the opportunity to talk about the looming across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on Friday.

“To me that’s a lack of leadership — for him to send out his cabinet secretaries to warn about all kinds of devastating consequences when we’re talking about a federal budget that will still be larger than last year’s budget,” Jindal said.

While Jindal was speaking, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was about 50 feet away talking to reporters in the White House briefing room — warning that the spending cuts could make America less secure.

“I’m not here to scare people,” Napolitano said when asked about Jindal’s comments. “If people are scared, it’s because the full impact of this is finally being made evident. And so people now are saying, oh my gosh, what do I need to do?”

Napolitano said the cut — which she said would force her to trim the Homeland Security budget by about 5 percent — would force dramatic cuts across the department, including reductions in the number of border security and TSA agents.

In advance of the president’s meeting with the governors, the White House prepared a state-by-state list of how the spending cuts will have a negative impact on education, health and security.

The list of things to happen to Louisiana includes some very specific numbers: approximately 1,730 fewer children receiving vaccines, 400 fewer victims of domestic violence receiving help, 1,400 children thrown out of Head Start and Early Start, and 600 disadvantaged children losing access to child care.

“There’s no reason to be threatening people’s access to vaccines or health care services. What’s next? Is he going to threaten to open the federal prisons? This is ridiculous. This is just a political campaign and he needs to stop the campaigning,” Jindal told ABC News. “The president needs to show leadership and tell Congress how he can cut $85 billion without cutting these critical services.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb222013

Obama Reaches Out to GOP Leaders in Effort to Stave Off Sequester

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is hoping good conversations will lead to good results as the administration steps up efforts to avoid deep automatic spending cuts a week from Friday that could waylay the economic recovery.

Up to now, President Obama and Republican leaders have found no common ground to avert the sequester on March 1, the first in a series of spending reductions totaling $1.2 trillion over a decade.

Round one will pare $85 billion from the Pentagon and numerous domestic programs, something both sides believe the nation can ill-afford with the economy just showing signs of rebounding.

According to White House spokesman Jay Carney, the president spoke with both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday, describing their chats on the phone as "good conversations."

However, the Republicans didn't seem as enthusiastic.  Boehner's office said the last real significant conversation the speaker had with the president was during the fiscal cliff negotiations in late December.

McConnell's office said Obama hasn't spoken to the Kentucky senator since New Year's Eve.

Essentially, the White House wants a "balanced" approach of spending cuts and tax revenues to avoid the sequester.  The GOP says any more tax hikes, which would actually come in the way of closing loopholes used by the wealthiest Americans, are off the table.

The calls came after Boehner wrote an op-ed alleging "[the sequester] is a product of the president's own failed leadership."

Meanwhile, one House Democrat is imploring Republicans to end their recess early and come back to Washington to hammer out a deal.

New Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews told reporters, "Our job is to represent the people who sent us here and make our decisions, not to avoid them."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb152013

Nancy Pelosi Wants to Stop the Sequester

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out forcefully on Thursday against deep automatic spending cuts called the sequester that are due to take effect on March 1 unless there is congressional action.

The California Democrat said allowing these cuts to happen is, "frivolous, it's irresponsible, it's immature and it is not in the interest of growing the economy in our country."

Virtually all analysts say the spending reductions affecting the Pentagon and a myriad of domestic programs will slow down economic growth to the point where it might lead to another recession.

Meanwhile, Pelosi also opposes a third year of freezing federal employees’ salaries to help bring down the deficit, asking her fellow lawmakers, "Why should people who work on Capitol Hill pay that price and be treated as members of Congress are?  It’s a hard question to ask me because -- most of my colleagues are the breadwinners in their families; a pay cut to me doesn’t mean as much."

Maryland Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen is on board with Pelosi, saying federal employees should not "bear the burden” of reducing the nation’s $1 trillion deficit.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb152013

Four-Hour Airport Security Screenings? Administration Warns of Sequester Impact

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday held a hearing on the wide-ranging impacts of the looming issue of sequestration that could take effect March 1. Senators held the hearing as Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and ranking member Richard Shelby, R-Ala., are considering legislation to replace sequestration.
 
Office of Management and Budget federal controller Danny Werfel also joined the hearing, along with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.
 
“I think it's a bad idea. I think it's bad policy. I think it's bad economic policy. I think it's bad governance policy. And I really don't like it,” Sen. Mikulski said Thursday of the sequester.
 
“Sequestration is bad policy, and the administration believes the Congress should pass balanced, bipartisan deficit reduction to avoid it,” OMB federal controller Danny Werfel added.
 
Werfel testified that if the sequester is allow to occur, it would have "significant and destructive consequences for domestic investments, national security and core government services."
 
Sec. Napolitano warned in her testimony that the effects of sequestration would have wide-ranging impacts at DHS, which could impact international trade with increased wait times at borders and a reduction in hours worked by customs officials.

“At the major international airports, average wait times to clear customs will increase by 50 percent. And in our busiest airports like Newark and JFK, LAX and Chicago O'Hare, peak wait times, which can already reach over two hours, could grow to four hours or more,” Napolitano said.  

She added that wait times at major land and sea ports would be forced to shut down during core hours, with delays in container examinations increasing up to five days. Napolitano said this would ultimately result in "increased cost to the trade community and reduced availability of consumer goods and raw materials.”
 
“The plain fact of the matter is the administration has put record amounts of resources at the [Southwest] border. As someone who comes from the border I can say that needs to be sustained and built upon,” Napolitano told the committee members.
 
Duncan said that cuts to the Department of Education would harm children.
 
“None of these are good choices,” Duncan said. “We have to invest. And so the idea that somehow we can kick the -- you know, kick the can down the road and just try a little more flexibility leaves us in a situation which, just again, many hundreds of thousands of young people will be hurt.”

Asked by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., about the cuts of USDA food and meat inspectors, OMB’s Werfel testified that the way the program is funded there is no way to find additional funds to keep inspectors working.
 
“And there is no way in which to find other sources of funds because 88 percent of the entire budget are those very people that need to be at those meat plants doing that inspection to keep them open,” Werfel said, adding, “So this is one of the very tangible and clear and significant impacts of sequester is that -- is that this division within USDA will not be able to make its core mission of sending the inspectors to these locations, and therefore, under appropriate laws and regulations, there'll be stoppages of work within those areas. So it's a very serious concern.”
 
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec072012

Federal Agencies Brace for Deep Cuts Post-'Cliff'

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With the “fiscal cliff” quickly approaching, federal agencies are stepping up preparations for deep automatic budget cuts that will kick in Jan. 2 unless the White House and Congress can reach a deal.

The Office of Management and Budget told ABC News that a memo went out to federal agencies earlier this week seeking “additional information and analysis” in order to finalize spending cuts required if we go off the cliff.

The agencies are considering which workers to furlough, projects to put on hold and offices that will have to close.

The request follows the administration’s release of a 400-page report in September that outlined the budget areas to be impacted by the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts and what percentages they would be slashed. (More on that HERE.)

Billions of dollars could be slashed from defense operations and maintenance programs. Medicare would take a two-percent hit, trimming millions in payouts to health care providers. Scientific research programs would be gutted. Aid for the poor and needy would be sharply curtailed.

The report also detailed operations that would be exempt from any cuts, including active-duty military operations, nuclear watchdogs, homeland security officials, veterans care and other critical areas.

Asked about the agency preparations underway, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that OMB “must take certain steps to ensure the administration is ready to issue such an order should Congress fail to act.”

“Earlier this week, OMB issued a request to federal agencies for additional information to finalize calculations on the spending reductions that would be required,” Carney said.

“This action should not be read … as a change in the administration’s commitment to reach an agreement and avoid sequestration.  OMB is simply ensuring that the administration is prepared, should it become necessary to issue such an order,” he said. “OMB will continue to consult with agencies and will provide additional guidance as needed.  This is just acting responsibly because of the potential for this happening.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov272012

Obama, GOP Mount 'Fiscal Cliff' Campaign Blitz

JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama, Republican lawmakers and an army of independent advocacy groups are mounting an aggressive new public campaign to highlight the stakes in a deal to avoid an economically toxic package of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that could take hold in 35 days.

The push has all the makings of a political campaign -- coming just three weeks after Election Day -- but with the nation's debt taking center stage instead of an individual candidate.

Obama is accelerating his outreach to key constituencies to shore up support for his "balanced" debt-reduction plan of tax increases on wealthier Americans coupled with cuts to government spending.

The president on Tuesday will host a private White House meeting with 15 small-business leaders, including the founder of an airplane crop-duster manufacturer from Texas, a music store owner from St. Louis and a local beer brewer from Wisconsin.

On Wednesday, Obama will hold an event to highlight the stories of Americans who wrote to the administration online about the importance of extending the Bush-era tax cuts for middle-income earners, and how going over the "cliff" and letting rates rise might adversely affect them.

The president then hits the "campaign trail" on Friday for a rally at a toy factory outside Philadelphia, taking his case directly to the people on the importance of averting the "fiscal cliff" for buoying consumer confidence and purchasing power during the holidays.

"Hearing from [voters], hearing their voices and hearing their priorities is essential to helping compel this process forward," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday.

Pressure from the White House and public opinion, however, is unlikely to easily sway House Republicans, most of who have vowed to reject any tax increases and would almost certainly draw a primary challenge if they wavered.

"The target of the president's rallies should be the congressional Democrats who want to raise tax rates on small businesses rather than cut spending," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.

Obama insists that income tax rates should rise on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and families making more than $250,000, or the top 2 percent of Americans.  Republicans remain staunchly opposed to increasing rates.

Boehner and other party leaders have expressed willingness to raise more revenue, coupled with overhauling entitlement programs, but they say it should be done by closing tax loopholes and capping deductions while decreasing net tax rates themselves.

Boehner plans to meet with former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles and members of the "Fix the Debt" coalition on Wednesday, his office said.  The Ohio congressman will also meet with an array of business leaders and CEOs.

Many House Republicans also plan to take their case against a tax rate increase on the road, planning public events in their home states and visits to small businesses, according to a Boehner spokesman.

Meanwhile, an army of independent interest groups have also begun adding their voices to the debate, running TV and radio ads, posting billboards and gathering signatures in online petition campaigns.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov202012

Romney's Economic Advisor: Compromise Needed to Avoid Fiscal Cliff

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- How would Mitt Romney have dealt with the fiscal cliff if he had won the White House?

A possible answer came from his top economic advisor, who seems to think that compromise between Republicans and Democrats is the only answer to avoiding another recession.

In fact, Glenn Hubbard, the dean of Columbia’s business school, did not rule out getting the rich to contribute more while interviewed Monday on MSNBC's Morning Joe, although he still advocates generating most of the needed revenue from spending cuts.

According to Hubbard, “If you raise every tax on the rich that the president has proposed, it’s about one percent of GDP (gross domestic product).  But our long-term problems are more like ten percent of GDP.  And we know from people who have studied fiscal consolidations are really all about spending cuts."

Yet, Hubbard doesn't flat out oppose eliminating deductions from the wealthiest Americans because "we're going to have to have some compromise.  And I think step one is figure out how to raise some revenue without killing the economy."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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