Columbus Dispatch Flip-Flops On Sequestration's Impact

››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

A recent editorial in The Columbus Dispatch dismissed the impact of federal budget sequestration on jobs and the economy in Ohio, claiming it "did not cause the sky to fall." However, past editorials and news reports published by the paper highlighted the economic repercussions on Ohioans that would result from the cuts.

Columbus Dispatch Editorial Downplayed The Economic Impact Of Sequestration

Columbus Dispatch: "Sequester Did Not Cause Sky To Fall." In a May 12 editorial, The Columbus Dispatch claimed the economic effect of sequestration amounted to only one job lost nationwide:

The sequestration cuts to the federal budget that took effect in March of last year weren't beloved by anyone: they were the unfortunate consequence of Congress and the president failing to compromise on spending. Obama used over-the-top scare tactics to try to get Republicans to okay more spending, but most of his doom-and-gloom scenarios quickly proved to be overblown.

Now, there is more objective confirmation that Obama overstated the affect of the Budget Control Act, as the sequester officially is known. A new report from the Government Accountability Office found that the sequester, with its $80 billion in budget cuts, resulted in the layoff of only one federal worker in the Justice Department. That's right. One. [The Columbus Dispatch, 5/12/14]

Columbus Dispatch Editorial Board Previously Worried About The Impact Of Sequestration On Ohioans

Columbus Dispatch Editorial Board: "The Sequester Was A Bad Idea And It's Very Unfortunate That Its Ham-Fisted Cuts Have Taken Effect. An April 27, 2013 editorial attacked the Obama administration's response to the implementation of cuts in the airline industry caused by sequestration but also noted that the sequester was a bad idea and should have never taken effect:

In a deeply divided Congress, one thing is clear: there is broad bipartisan opposition to government-imposed flight delays that inconvenience constituents and damage businesses and the economy.

[...]

The sequester was a bad idea and it's very unfortunate that its ham-fisted cuts have taken effect.

But even worse is the lack of real concern for the welfare of the economy and American citizens that its implementation has exposed in the Obama administration. [The Columbus Dispatch, 4/27/14]

The Dispatch Editorial Board Was Concerned About Sequestration-Related Job Cuts At A Local Airport. A Columbus Dispatch editorial from May 15, 2013, discussed the Obama administrations actions related to sequestration but also noted that planned sequestration cuts at airports "such as Don Scott," a small airport in Ohio that would see job loss and loss of business:

It seems obvious by now that President Obama, in his drive to make sequestration cuts hurt and blame Republicans for them, overplayed his hand after cynically cutting small-ticket but high-visibility items such as White House tours (which remain halted despite summer vacations looming).

But airports mean business and jobs. A small airport such as Don Scott generates millions of dollars in economic impact for the community each year, supports good private-sector jobs and is home to important operations such as an air-ambulance service. The majority of the FAA's budget comes directly from taxes and fees levied on those who use airports. Those users and the communities served by these airports have every right to expect the FAA to make cuts only after careful, serious review, not out of what seem to be deliberately hurtful, political motives. [The Columbus Dispatch, 5/15/13]

The Columbus Dispatch Editorial Board: Planned Cuts To Airports "Could Cost Money And Jobs." Prior to changes to sequestration that prevented large-scale layoffs of air traffic controllers, The Columbus Dispatch claimed the president was using the threat of job cuts as a political maneuver, but also noted it "could cost money and jobs":

Even if one isn't planning to fly, flight delays and cuts could cost money and jobs in an already-fragile recovery. As with painful cuts being made in everything from White House tours to national park hours, this is another example of the administration appearing to be deliberately and shamefully making the sting worse to score political points. [The Columbus Dispatch, 4/23/13]

Sequestration Has Cost Ohioans Jobs And Hurt The Economy

Top Public Defender Stepped Down To Protect Other Jobs From Sequestration Related Cuts. According to The Columbus Dispatch, the top federal public defender in the Southern District of Ohio stepped down due to budget shortfalls caused by sequestration. The Southern District lost two other employees to attrition, using the savings to keep its remaining staff intact (emphasis added):

In the Southern District of Ohio, that office had to cut 11 percent of its budget between March and Sept. 30.

To accomplish that, the top federal public defender eliminated his own job so other attorneys in the office wouldn't lose theirs. The office handles cases for poor federal defendants in Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. [The Columbus Dispatch, 8/31/13]

Many Ohio Social Services Faced Heavy Cuts Due To Sequestration. According to The Columbus Dispatch, health services and unemployment benefits were cut due to sequestration:

Among the cuts Ohio social-service agencies have faced:

• The Ohio Department of Health saw reductions to programs including WIC food and newborn-hearing programs. The department has absorbed the impact for those cuts and many others to date.

• Federal unemployment benefits in Ohio have been reduced by 16 percent, an average of about $50 per week.

• According to the Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 2,782 Ohio preschoolers have been cut from Head Start, a portion of the 57,265 expected to be cut nationwide. [The Columbus Dispatch, 9/1/13]

Columbus Dispatch: Sequestration Caused "Head Start Programs [To] Cut Staff Members And Students." A September 1, 2013, article in The Columbus Dispatch cited sequestration as the cause for cuts to early education programs like Head Start and other programs that serve low-income or underprivileged group (emphasis added):

Head Start programs cut staff members and students. Meals on Wheels, a federal program that delivers meals to the homebound elderly, scaled back in some communities. Federal public defenders, already strapped for funding, cut an additional 11 percent out of their budgets and are preparing for more cuts this fall.

It's been six months since the federal government imposed $85 billion worth of mandatory budget cuts, and among those who have felt the impact most acutely have been the poorest Americans.

"Did the sequester disproportionately hurt the poor?" said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks. "You bet it did." [The Columbus Dispatch9/1/13]

Columbus Dispatch: Public Defenders Offices Shrinking In Ohio Due SequestrationIn an August 31, 2013 article reporting on the effects of sequestration on public defenders, The Dispatch claimed that public defenders offices would shrink due to the budget cuts:

Attorneys appointed to represent indigent clients in federal courts nationwide are feeling the bite of sequestration.

Beginning Oct. 1, $15 will be sliced from the $125-an-hour fee.

[...]

Each panel attorney is assigned about four cases a year, but that number could grow as budgets in public-defender offices shrink due to sequestration, the federal spending cuts that began on March 1. [The Columbus Dispatch8/31/13]

The Sequester Cut Nearly 5 Percent From Federal Social Service Block Grants, Costing Ohio $184 Million. According to a June 2013 report by Policy Matters Ohio, federal social service block grants to Ohio counties were reduced by 4.77 percent from 2012 to 2013. Each of the state's 88 counties lost funding, ranging from $1,800 to more than $260,000. In total, federal budget sequestration left Ohio with a $184 million shortfall in 2013. The report concluded that the cuts would result in "long lasting" harm for "children, families, seniors, workers, and the economy" unless services were restored. [Policy Matters Ohio, 6/18/13]

CBO: Sequestration Prevented The Creation Of Up 1.6 Million Jobs Nationally. According to a July 2013 report by the Congressional Budget Office, cancelling sequestration in 2013 would have raised employment levels nationwide by between 300,000 and 1.6 million while increasing economic growth by between 0.2 and 1.2 percent (emphasis added):

The full ranges CBO uses for those parameters suggest that, in the third quarter of calendar year 2014, real GDP could be between 0.2 percent and 1.2 percent higher, and employment 0.3 million to 1.6 million higher, under the proposal than under current law. Because those estimates indicate the effects of a prospective change in law, they do not encompass the full impact of the sequestration that has already occurred. [Congressional Budget Office, 7/25/13]

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