Jonathan Karl at ABC breaks the media code of silence:
The Sky is Falling! Maybe, but it really shouldn’t be.
The Obama administration’s list of what will happen if upcoming spending cuts go into effect is downright terrifying. In recent days, officials have warned of more forest fires, workplace deaths and, heaven-forbid — chicken shortages.
And today the White House brought out Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to warn of big air travel delays across the country as air traffic controllers are forced off the job because of budget cuts.
LaHood even suggested that some smaller airports – he specifically mentioned the airport at golfing paradise Hilton Head, S.C. — might have to reduce hours of operation or even temporarily close. That should catch the eye of avid golfer and Speaker of the House John Boehner.
There’s no doubt that the automatic spending cuts set to go into effect on March 1 will cause some real pain and many economists believe they would hurt the economy. But all the dire warnings give the impression the cuts are much larger than they actually are.
Take today’s White House example: The Department of Transportation.
The Department of Transportation’s budget for 2013 is $74.2 billion. The automatic spending cuts would slice $1 billion out of its budget: that is a cut of less than 1.4 percent.
And consider this: even if the cuts go into effect, the Department of Transportation will spend more money this year ($73.2 billion) than it spent last year ($72.6 billion).
The administration is saying that the Department of Transportation cannot squeeze 1.4 percent of its budget without sending air traffic controllers home and that they cannot find a way to operate effectively this year with a budget that is actually larger than the budget they had last year.
That may be true, but it raises larger questions about the government’s ability to find relatively modest savings without cutting essential services.
Now if we can just get them to admit that the sequester was Obama’s idea in the first place.