An administrator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) was cautioned by superiors this week not to distribute reduced funding from last week’s sequestration spending cuts in a way that mitigates the measure’s supposedly dire effects.
The Washington Times reports that Charles Brown, APHIS eastern regional director of wildlife services, instead was told, in so many words, to bring the pain.
According to the report, an internal email exchange between Brown and the APHIS Budget and Program Analysis office (BPAS) began when Brown asked whether he could equitably distribute sequester-mandated spending cuts throughout his region in order to ensure none of the programs under his administration would experience any undue operating hardships.
He was advised not to do anything that would make the White House’s predictions about the harmful effects of sequestration look foolish:
“We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that ‘APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 states in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs.’ So it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.”
Senator Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) coaxed some backtracking out of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack when she grilled him Tuesday about the email and its sinister implications:
And so the Administration of President Barack Obama continues its casting about for high-profile illustrations of how badly sequestration hurts regular people — even if it has to manufacture them. CBS News notes three instances in the past 10 days of White House officials putting their foots in their mouths (i.e., lying) when pressed to describe how not spending Federal money as quickly as Obama wishes translates into real moments of doom and gloom.
Nevertheless, a poll CBS released Monday revealed that 53 percent of Americans who responded feel the sequestration cuts will affect them personally. To the Obama Administration’s undoubted relief, most of them blame Congressional Republicans’ intransigence in agreeing to a deficit-reduction package.