|Sequestering Easter Egg Roll Just Latest White House Scare Tactic|
By Ashton Ellis
Wednesday, March 27 2013
The politics of the budget sequester have taken some childish turns, but few as revealing as the White House threat to cancel the 135th Easter Egg Roll.
Consider this sequence of events.
In mid-March the White House emailed Members of Congress alerting them to the possibility that the annual Easter Egg Roll might be cancelled at the last minute because of funding problems.
The event includes attendees whose tickets are facilitated by congressional offices, the same offices which must tell constituents that their White House tours have been cancelled.
The exact warning language said, “[B]y using these tickets, guests are acknowledging that this event is subject to cancellation due to funding uncertainty surrounding the Executive Office of the President and other federal agencies,” according to reporting by Politico. “If cancelled, the event will not be rescheduled.”
With up to 35,000 people expected to attend the presidential party, the announcement was instantly recognized as a costly form of cheap politics by the White House. For those upset about the lost money for pre-booked flights and hotels in the event of cancellation or just over the loss of a beloved traditional event? Blame Republicans and the budget sequester that went into effect March 1.
The White House’s initial response was to claim impotence. Hands tied, what could poor President Barack Obama do but cancel a beloved holiday party for the children of taxpaying citizens?
After taking a beating in the press and from late night comics, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tried to change the subject by changing the egg roll’s source of funding.
In an acerbic reply to Fox News anchor Jenna Lee about the possible cancellation, Carney said, “Well actually, Jenna, again, if you did a little reporting, you’d know that the Easter Egg Roll is open for a lot of military families. It’s paid for by the sale of those eggs that come out as well as from donations from the outside. It’s a totally different budget. These are apples and oranges.”
Assuming Carney is right that the egg roll budget is “totally different” from the White House spending affected by sequester, it confirms yet another instance of Obama Administration flunkies misrepresenting the impact of sequester.
Perhaps the most egregious example was a claim by the White House that, in Maryland, “2,050 fewer children will get vaccines for diseases like measles and whooping cough.” That estimate was based on an assumption that sequester would cut $30 million from a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vaccination program for high-risk populations.
The implication was clear: Cut the funding, and eliminate potentially life-saving medicine to high-risk children. But the facts were inconvenient. In his 2013 budget proposal, President Barack Obama actually requested a $58 million cut to the same CDC program, arguing that no vaccinations would be lost because of efficiency gains from consolidation.
Though the cuts never materialized, the CDC director admitted in a hearing to Congress that under either scenario the agency would be able to maintain vaccination levels.
So far, Obama’s response to the budget sequester has ranged from the sophomoric to the dangerous. Threaten to cancel a privately funded, publicly hosted holiday party on one day; demagogue on high-risk vaccines the next.
Following the Obama Administration’s logic, one reality becomes crystal clear. The liberals around the President can’t bring themselves to offer any sensible cuts because their free-spending ideology won’t let them. To do so would concede the premise that the federal budget can be cut without destabilizing the country. Backed into a corner, they prefer to lash out with the most unpopular cuts imaginable.
It isn’t working. A new Marist poll shows President Obama’s approval rating between 45-48 percent, his worst numbers in more than a year. Saturday Night Live recently had a character portraying him say, “I really don’t know how budgets work.”
Too bad that’s true.
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