Five Obama Administration Sequester Warnings That Didn’t Pan Out

Some agencies have dealt with budget cuts by shifting money and cutting back. Other predictions were outright false.

5. Cuts to Small Businesses That Didn’t Happen

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

What the Obama administration said: “Small businesses create two-thirds of all new jobs in America, and instead of helping small businesses expand and hire, the automatic cuts triggered by a sequester would reduce loan guarantees to small businesses by up to $902 million.” The White House added these cuts would be “constraining financing needed by small businesses to maintain and expand their operations and create jobs.”

What actually happened: According to the Associated Press, Small Business Administration head Karen Mills has said, “We are not slowing down giving loans to anyone.”

Mills stated that demand for one type of loan, the 504 loan, was going to fall this year, making it so the SBA could meet demand for its other loans. Mills said furloughs were avoided by cutting staffers through early retirement.

4. TSA Furloughs That Didn’t Go Into Place

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

What the Obama administration said: “The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would reduce its frontline workforce, which would substantially increase passenger wait times at airport security checkpoints. TSA would need to initiate a hiring freeze for all transportation security officer positions in March, eliminate overtime, and furlough its 50,000 officers for up to seven days.

What actually happened: In an April 18 hearing hosted by the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the deputy administrator of the TSA, John Halinski, told members that the agency would be able to avoid furloughing employees and doesn’t anticipate any reason to do so in the future. Longer wait times have yet to materialize.

3. Justice Department Furloughs That Didn’t Materialize

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

What the Obama administration said: President Obama specifically cited FBI agents receiving furloughs in a March 1 press conference. In another speech, the president said, “FBI agents will be furloughed.”

Attorney General Eric Holder said there would be furloughs for nearly 3,570 Bureau of Prisons staff, according to ABC News, and that 2,300 federal agents and corrections officers would be laid off, according to The Wall Street Journal.

What actually happened: In March, Holder said he was able to avoid the daily furloughs of federal prison staffers by moving $150 million from other Justice Department accounts to stop the unpaid days off.

In April, Holder added in a memo to Justice Department employees that he was able to avoid all Justice Department furloughs in this fiscal year, but did not rule out possible furloughs next year.

2. The Pay Cut for Janitors That Wasn’t Real

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

What the Obama administration said: At a press conference in March, President Obama said, “All the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol — now that Congress has left, somebody is going to be vacuuming and cleaning those floors and throwing out the garbage — they’re going to have less pay.” The president continued, adding, “the janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they’ve got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real.”

What actually happened: Right after the president spoke back in March, the superintendent of the U.S. Capitol Building and the Capitol Visitors Center, Carlos Elias, was forced to email his employees to tell them it was not true, according to CBS News.

“The pay and benefits of EACH of our employees WILL NOT be impacted,” he wrote to Capitol staffers. “I request that you please notify all of our employees about the importance of ignoring media reports.”

A White House spokesman, Bobby Whithorne, told BuzzFeed back in March
that the president was discussing overtime pay.

“If you receive income from hourly overtime work and they cut your overtime, you’re going to get paid less. As the president said, ‘They’re going to have less pay.’ Folks who are getting paid hourly aren’t breaking up their paycheck to say, well, technically this portion of my paycheck came from my overtime pay, so I’m not going to actually count that toward my income. They rely on that overtime, and they pay their bills with that income.”

1. The Criminals They Didn’t Let Go

Charles Dharapak / AP

What the Obama administration said: President Obama said very pointedly in a speech in early March that due to the sequester, “federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go.”

What actually happened: As stated above, the Bureau of Prisons was able to avoid furloughs on workers, and a Bureau of Prisons spokesman told The New York Times that the agency would not be letting anyone go due to sequester cuts. The president’s claim was also rated “mostly false” by the fact-checking site Politifact, which noted “living within budgetary limits isn’t anything new for a seasoned prosecutor.”

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