Latest White House sequester scare highlights state programs

The White House’s PR office rolled out its latest sequester-scare offensive Sunday night, complete with a state-by-state list of possible budget cuts.

In Ohio, for example, residents “will lose approximately $25.1 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 350 teacher and aide jobs at risk,” said the White House’s statement about Ohio’s share of the sequester cuts.

The list of potential cuts in state funding was timed for Monday’s meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama spoke at the association’s dinner meeting Sunday night. He pitched a conciliatory message, saying that he was hoping to head off the budget cuts set to automatically go into effect March 1.

“I’m looking for good partners,” he claimed.

“While nobody in this room sees eye-to-eye on everything, we know that when we work together, Democrats and Republicans, north, south, east and west, we can accomplish so much more than we can on our own. …We’re stronger when we work together as a team,” he told his fellow politicians.

But the White House’s earlier statement carried a much harder message — that the budgetary pain would continue until the GOP-controlled House agreed to transfer more money from Americans to the federal government.

“The President is determined to cut spending and reduce the deficit in a balanced way, but he won’t stick the middle class with the bill. … Republicans should compromise and meet the President in the middle,” said the White House statement released Sunday.

On Tuesday, Obama will fly to the U.S. Navy base in Norfolk, Va., to highlight his decision to delay the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Middle East as result of the looming sequester cuts.

In response to the Sunday statement, GOP leaders and flacks urged the White House to better manage the spending cuts, and also to press the Senate’s Democratic majority to suggest an alternative set of spending cuts.

“Considering the House has twice passed legislation to avoid the sequester you would think [the] White House would be focused on getting the Senate to pass a plan that would do the same instead of creating more PR stunts,” said an email from Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee.

GOP officials also highlighted the Feb. 24 article by Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, who concluded the president has sought to “move the goalposts” set by the 2011 budget deal that established the sequester. Instead of implementing the spending cuts, he’s trying to renegotiate the deal to convert its spending cuts into more tax increases, said Woodward.

“When the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts,” Woodward wrote.