Budgets: Remember the dire warnings that a ton of government workers would lose their jobs if the across-the-board budget cuts went into effect? Turns out only one worker did.
Turn the clock back to early 2013 and listen to what President Obama said would happen because of the automatic spending cuts — called sequestration — that were set to go into effect that year.
Sequestration “will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls,” he asserted. “People will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.”
Also, first responders, teachers and other “essential” government workers would get the ax, he said.
Yet when the Government Accountability Office went through 23 federal agencies looking for those job cuts, it found just one employee had been laid off due to sequestration. Even by government standards, there’s a big difference between “one” and “hundreds of thousands.”
So who got the ax? Surely it must have been that EPA employee who admitted to spending as many as six hours a day watching any of the 7,000-plus porn videos that he’d downloaded onto his office computer. Nope. As of this writing, he’s still pulling down a $120,000 salary from the agency.
Then it has to be one of those IRS employees who faced disciplinary action for cheating on their taxes. Sorry. An audit found that 1,150 of them received a total of $1 million in bonuses from October 2010 and December 2012.
How about the Census workers caught napping in the lobby, library and cafeteria at agency headquarters?
They kept their jobs. But they did get a memo suggesting they not nap in public parts of the building because “it creates an impression of carelessness.” That must have hurt.
Was it one of those Department of Homeland Security employees found collecting overtime pay for watching sports? Not a chance.
Then it had to have been the Commerce Department official who authorized a taxpayer-paid “team building exercise” that included lunch at a nearby restaurant and tickets to the latest “Star Trek” movie.
Or perhaps it was one of the workers who later altered their attendance records to hide the excursion. As far as we know, no one lost a job over that one, either.
No. The one worker let go because of sequestration wasn’t any of these or countless other government employees who waste or flagrantly abuse taxpayer dollars.
It was a lowly U.S. Parole Commission employee.
None of Obama’s other sequester horror stories came true, either.
The private sector added 2.4 million jobs in 2013. The number of state and local education workers climbed by 28,000 last year.
The unemployment rate dropped from 7.9% at the start of the year to 6.7% by year’s end.
And gross domestic product climbed faster in the last three quarters of 2013 — after the sequester cuts hit — than it did in the six months before.
The truth is that there is so much fat in the federal government that agencies were easily able to absorb the cuts with modest adjustments, and without the broader economy noticing the difference.
Sure, there were some delayed government hires, some cutbacks in bonuses and reductions in overtime. But even furloughs were relatively rare, with just seven agencies using them to save money.
The sequester cuts were little more than a haircut anyway, trimmed from a $3.5 trillion budget that had exploded during Obama’s first term under the guise of “stimulus.”
And then lawmakers added back $24 billion of the sequester cuts in 2013, and $98 billion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
While the sequester cuts didn’t result in any massive job loss, it did expose one thing in the government that has suffered deep cuts in recent years. Honesty at the White House.