WASHINGTON -- It's looking increasingly like the government is about to impose on itself $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts. So as part of its strategy to pressure Republicans into accepting new revenues as part of a deal to prevent the sequester from taking effect, the White House released new reports on Sunday that outline the ugly effects those cuts would have in individual states.
Each state's report is linked below. But Jason Furman, principal deputy director of the White House's National Economic Council, pulled out some state-specific examples of the ways the cuts will hurt education, national defense, public health and the economy.
In Ohio, 350 teacher and teacher-aide jobs are at risk, which means 43,000 fewer students will be served, Furman said on a Sunday conference call with reporters. In Virginia, 90,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed. About 4,180 fewer children in Georgia would get vaccines and, in Kentucky, 400 fewer victims of domestic violence would end up being served.
Recently approved aid for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts will also be at risk, officials said, and commuters should expect more delays in airports.
President Barack Obama's deficit reduction plan, which includes new revenues in addition to spending cuts, would be a "much better course, economically and substantively" than the sequester, Furman said. The president's proposal would achieve $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction, made up of roughly $1.1 trillion in spending cuts and $680 billion in new revenues drawn from limiting deductions and closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans.
White House senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer said the blame will fall squarely on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) if the sequester kicks in, since they aren't budging in accepting new revenues that stem from higher taxes on the wealthy.
"Republicans are making a policy choice that these are cuts are better for the economy than closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy," Pfeiffer said on the same call Sunday. The American people, he said, "overwhelmingly disagree with that choice."
Despite saying it will be Republicans' fault if the sequester takes effect, Pfeiffer said it "misses the point" to try to place blame for coming up with the sequester idea at all. It was never intended to take effect; Obama and Congress signed off on it during the 2011 debt fight purely as a way to put more pressure on themselves to come up with something better than sweeping, across-the-board cuts that total $1 trillion over ten years. But they failed to do so, and now that sequestration may become a reality, partisan finger-pointing has escalated in recent weeks over whose great idea that was in the first place.
"You should ask House Republicans why they think this is such an important debate," Pfeiffer said. "It's a fairly stupid one."
GOP leaders issued statements later Sunday trashing Obama for not doing enough on overall deficit reduction.
“Rather than issuing last-minute press releases on cuts to first responders or troop training or airport security, he should propose smarter ways to cut Washington spending. After all, Washington spending, even with the sequester, is bigger than it was when he got here,” McConnell said.
“Republicans in the House have voted -- twice -- to replace President Obama's sequester with smarter spending cuts,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “The White House needs to spend less time explaining to the press how bad the sequester will be and more time actually working to stop it."
Some governors bracing for the effects of the sequester are emphasizing the need for flexibility in making those cuts in their states.
"We are budget balancers. There is an art to it," said North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R), talking to HuffPost at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C. this weekend. "The worst thing is to have no flexibility."
Dalrymple said governors were briefed at the meeting that the cuts would come from individual federal line items that would flow down to the states, a plan he said he feared wouldn't give state officials enough control over how their states were impacted.
New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D), meanwhile, told HuffPost the real focus should be on passing Obama's proposal, not on how states should be preparing for cuts that will hurt the middle class.
The sequester "is going to stop our economic recovery in its tracks," Hassan said.
It's not surprising that some Democratic governors are criticizing GOP lawmakers for the sequester stalemate. But now even some conservative Republican governors are saying it's time for lawmakers in their party to stop drawing a hard line at including new revenues in a fiscal deal.
"We don’t like taxes. We don’t like increasing taxes," Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) said during a Sunday appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation." "But we know we have to be pragmatic. We know there has to be some kind of compromise, but dang it, they need to get the job done. They don’t need to leave the public out there hanging."
Below are links to each of the White House reports detailing how the sequester will impact individual states:
30. New Hampshire
31. New Jersey
32. New Mexico
33. New York
34. North Carolina
35. North Dakota
40. Rhode Island
41. South Carolina
42. South Dakota
49. West Virginia