The White House on Sunday delivered a state-by-state laundry
list of multibillion-dollar federal spending cuts that would occur if
sequestration takes effect on Friday.
If Congress and the White House cannot reach an agreement to avert the automatic cuts, a broad swath of government services would be reduced: law enforcement, food safety, schools, national parks, health services and the military. More specifically: Kids sent home from Head Start, airline passengers stuck at choked security checkpoints, unemployed people turned away from job counseling. (See Stateline graphic)
The cuts would hit states reliant on defense spending especially hard, with 8 percent of all military spending set to be reduced over the rest of the fiscal year. Tens of thousands of civilian Defense Department employees would be furloughed. Five percent of all other federal spending would be cut.
The 50-state list was released as President Obama hosted the governors at a White House dinner, an annual tradition of the National Governors Association winter meeting.
Asked what he would say to the President at the governors' meeting with him Monday, Republican Governor Robert McDonnell said, "I would say Mr. President, it's been 18 months. What the heck is going on? Stop having press conferences and get something done...oh, and by the way you're hurting my state."
Dan Pfeiffer, senior advisor to President Obama, countered, "These effects are real." In a conference call with reporters, Pfeiffer said, "There are hundreds of thousands of Americans who are working today who will lose their jobs...which is as catastrophic a thing as can happen to family finances."
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, vice chair of the NGA and a Republican, said in an interview that her biggest worry is the timing of the sequester.
"The President holds the key to the sequestration," she said. Until the administration reveals how the budget cuts will unfold, she said, "it leaves states and the private sector in a period of uncertainty. It's not helpful to our national recovery."
Many of the governors have prepared their own analyses of the impact of the cuts, so the White House report was not entirely a surprise. The impacts range from $8 million in losses this year in South Dakota, according to GOP Governor Dennis Daugaard. In Virginia, McDonnell said the state's economy could lose as much as $4.2 billion in economic output in five years and 164,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo, told governors that the sequestration cuts would have the greatest impact on states with a heavy federal presence, especially Virginia and Maryland. He also named New Mexico, Alabama, Missouri, South Carolina.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat who has frequently sparred with Republican McDonnell, aligned with the Virginian in urging the President and Congress to resolve the stalemate.
"On both sides of the Potomac we sit in the middle of a corridor of science and security and this sequester stands to wipe out a lot of hard-fought job gains in Virginia and Maryland," O'Malley said on CBS' Face the Nation.
Other governors reacted along party lines, focusing on the President's proposal to end certain tax breaks as part of the solution. Republican
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