WaPo: Yep, White House is still lying about janitors

posted at 3:01 pm on March 6, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

This is so perfectly symbolic of the White House’s strategy on sequestration, that I had to highlight it. This is the second time the Washington Post fact-checker has awarded the administration Pinnocchios (four this time) in one week, for the same lie. Which is to say, wow, this is a really big, fat lie.

First, the substance of the claim in question, made in backpedaling response to Glenn Kessler’s first fact check on the issue of janitors:

“You know, those Capitol janitors will not get as much overtime. I’m sure they think less pay, that they’re taking home, does hurt.”

— Gene Sperling, director of the White House economic council, on ABC News’ “This Week,” March 3, 2013

“On the issue of the janitors, if you work for an hourly wage and you earn overtime, and you depend on that overtime to make ends meet, it is simply a fact that a reduction in overtime is a reduction in your pay.”

— White House spokesman Jay Carney, news briefing, March 4

The verdict: complete malarkey, as Joe Biden might say.

First of all, we should note that the White House’s story kept evolving as we reported last week’s column. It’s almost as if the president’s aides had to scramble to come up with reasons why the president could be correct, without actually knowing the facts.

So, when we forwarded to White House aides an AOC memo saying no furloughs were planned, White House aides latched onto a line about overtime reductions. For a couple of hours, we were also told that the janitors were on contract — and contracts were being curtailed. But that line of reasoning turned out to be incorrect. Then, after the statements from the Capitol were issued, there was no longer any response.

But, as seen by the quotes above, the talking point about “overtime” did not fade away.

AOC officials declined to discuss janitor compensation, but SAA officials were willing to share details. Given that the AOC and SAA janitors essentially work side by side, it is reasonable to assume that the pay statistics are roughly similar.

Bret H. Swanson, assistant sergeant at arms for operations and the manager of cleaning technicians, said 27 people are employed on the night cleaning shift and 16 people on a day shift; a majority of the cleaning takes place at night. There is a differential for the overnight shift, so the night janitors earn an average of $51,644 a year and the day janitors earn an average of $49,481.

And the overtime pay? It averaged $304 per employee in fiscal year 2012 and $388 per employee thus far in the current fiscal year. “Cleaning technicians do not earn what I would consider to be a great deal of overtime pay,” Swanson said.

In other words, overtime amounts to only pittance of the overall pay — about $6.50 a week on top of wages of $1,000 a week. That’s much different from Carney’s claim of having to “depend on that overtime to make ends meet.”

Indeed, even before the sequester was implemented, Capitol Hill janitors have already earned more overtime pay than they did in all of last year. Swanson said the higher amount so far this year is because of “the demands of beginning a new Congress and hosting a presidential inauguration during a weekend that also included a federal holiday.”

Hey, we all struggle with the truth every now and then, right?

The Obama administration has overreached three times in the past 10 days in attempting to illustrate the negative impact of the sequester spending cuts in the short term, giving fodder to those seeking to play down the impact of the cuts.

On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters that major airports had seen lines ballooning to 150-200 percent their normal size. The Transportation Security Administration later clarified that it was not yet seeing longer-than-normal checkpoint lines, though Customs and Border Protection told CBS News there had been increased wait times at two airports due to reduced staffing.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, however, that “officials representing a dozen major airports said there were few if any unusual flight delays or lines at security or customs checkpoints.” That included an official at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, which is one of the two airports that had been specifically cited by Customs and Border Protection.

On Friday, meanwhile, President Obama said that janitors at the U.S. Capitol would receive a pay cut due to the sequester cuts. Carlos Elias, the superintendent of the U.S. Capitol building and the Capitol Visitors Center, quickly emailed employees to say “This is NOT TRUE,” adding that “The pay and benefits of EACH of our employees WILL NOT be impacted.”

The prior Sunday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan had said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall.” He later acknowledged that he “misspoke” after fact checkers found no evidence for the claim.

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked what was being done to ensure the figures were not being exaggerated. Carney responded by pointing to long-term projections of job losses from economic analysts and “numerous examples already of what’s going to happen,” including plans to furlough 750,000 Department of Defense Workers.

Pressed about the issue again Tuesday – specifically why Napolitano did not check her facts before making her claims regarding longer lines – Carney said it is a “fact” that “there will be negative effects on our air traffic because of the reductions in FAA man hours, air traffic controllers in particular.”

“And efforts to muddy that fact by, you know, singling out a certain statement…we can do that, but there are real people out there who will be delayed or who will have their wages cut or…who will lose their jobs as a result of the sequester, while folks in Washington are arguing over whether this particular impact happened when we said it was going to happen or a week later or a month later,” he said.

No wonder the president is “recalibrating.” The fact that he lied about all this is getting dangerously close to being common knowledge. It’s even seeped into the Buzzfeed coverage, which means people who pay no attention to politics are even hearing this loud and clear.

Tim Carney offers a heads-up for those who might just now be noticing this trend:

And, some snark from Dave Freddoso:

Breaking on Hot Air

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Comments

It’s not lying, just that the facts are wrong.

Always has been this way for King Barak.

jukin3 on March 6, 2013 at 3:06 PM

“What difference does it make?”

indypat on March 6, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Next up: Prez makes another ‘campaign’ appearance with a bunch of weeping broom-pushers behind him. “Their tears are real! Can’t you feel their pain, so I don’t have to?”

Marcola on March 6, 2013 at 3:11 PM

indypat on March 6, 2013 at 3:09 PM

None

cozmo on March 6, 2013 at 3:13 PM

If the lie fails, the first time … you lie again.

I’m waiting for Stuart Smalley to write:

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right Lying Commie in the White House

OhEssYouCowboys on March 6, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Since the White House is closed to the public, they need fewer janitors and staff, right?

Good place to make cuts.

MichaelGabriel on March 6, 2013 at 3:15 PM

I’m far from a shrink, but my gut tells me that a malignant narcissist is not going to take this well. First Saturday night live, now Buzzfeed and the Washington Post calling him out very publicly. Ooopsie. Backfired.

I’m hoping the meltdown will be spectacular.

tru2tx on March 6, 2013 at 3:17 PM

…Bush/Cheney…
 
verbaluce on March 6, 2013 at 2:22 PM

rogerb on March 6, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Still doesn’t beat this whopper:

Obama’s fanciful claim that Congress ‘proposed’ the sequester
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/obamas-fanciful-claim-that-congress-proposed-the-sequester/2012/10/25/8651dc6a-1eed-11e2-ba31-3083ca97c314_blog.html

The Pinocchio Test
Woodward’s detailed account of meetings during the crisis, clearly based on interviews with key participants and contemporaneous notes, make it clear that sequestration was a proposal advanced and promoted by the White House.
“After reviewing all the interviews and the extensive material I have on this issue, it looks like President Obama told a whopper,” Woodward said. “Based on what Jack Lew said in Florida today, I have asked the White House to correct the record.”

We had been wavering between Three and Four Pinocchios. But in light’s of Lew’s decision to doubledown on Obama’s claim, we agree it’s a whopper.

Colbyjack on March 6, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Hey, we all struggle with the truth every now and then, right?

This regime doesn’t simply struggle with the truth, it has an allergic aversion to the truth.

rbj on March 6, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Fear Mongering at its finest.

Del Dolemonte on March 6, 2013 at 3:24 PM

I think I need to quit my job and become a Capitol Hill janitor.

They make what I make and I put in 12-15 hour days on a regular basis.

JadeNYU on March 6, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Come on now, you will find more truth in Pravada than you will find in the mouths of any WH official.

Raquel Pinkbullet on March 6, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Forget the overtime. Why does a “cleaning person” make $25 / hr ???

CharlieCA on March 6, 2013 at 3:30 PM

51% prefer being lied to

RedInMD on March 6, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Forget the overtime. Why does a “cleaning person” make $25 / hr ???

CharlieCA on March 6, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Doubleplusungood.

In the future, please refer to them as “environment engineers.”

RedPepper on March 6, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Lefty logic is interesting. (Almost as interesting as Arab logic)

Evil republicans don’t care about the little people.

They tell us everyday.

So, why would we give a $h!t about the janitors?

Ben Hur on March 6, 2013 at 3:41 PM

I think I need to quit my job and become a Capitol Hill janitor.

They make what I make and I put in 12-15 hour days on a regular basis.

JadeNYU on March 6, 2013 at 3:27 PM

This.

51k for a janitor?

I have a friend who’s a DEA agent whose salary was cut and frozen 3 years ago. Good to know we’re not pulling those sorts of shenanigans with the salaries of critical government staff like the cleaning crew.

TexasDan on March 6, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Forget the overtime. Why does a “cleaning person” make $25 / hr ???

CharlieCA on March 6, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Doubleplusungood.

In the future, please refer to them as “environment engineers.”

RedPepper on March 6, 2013 at 3:41 PM

I think you mean “reliable Democrat voters”.

TexasDan on March 6, 2013 at 3:43 PM

This is the first year in the last 4 that I haven’t had a furlough, so I’m not feeling much sympathy here.

Bob's Kid on March 6, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Meanwhile, because their Republican bosses planned ahead in case the sequester did occur, the janitors at the Capital continue to collect their regular paychecks with no drama whatsoever.

Lily on March 6, 2013 at 3:47 PM

This regime doesn’t simply struggle with the truth, it has an allergic aversion to the truth.

rbj on March 6, 2013 at 3:20 PM

… like a vampire being offered a 3 garlic clove holy water martin served in a silver, mirror-polished chalice. With a crucifix-shaped swizzle stick.

Midas on March 6, 2013 at 3:49 PM

That overtime figure; the comparison of an average for all of last year with an average for this year year to date – that is higher – makes me think the math is wrong somehow. Are we sure that’s not a ‘per week’ average per employee, rather than a “they only earned a total of $300 overtime all year”? It’s not outside the realm of reality for a $1000/week person to earn another $300/week in overtime – but to only earn $300 the entire year, well… that’s a remarkly small number of overtime hours over the entire year…

Midas on March 6, 2013 at 3:57 PM

So now overtime is necessary for someone to make a living? These guys who live without a budget, this is what you get.

Someone should say, maybe the Senate can pass them a budget so they know what they can and cannot spend…than the overtime can be “extra” money.

right2bright on March 6, 2013 at 4:00 PM

I can imagine that for every 3 janitors, their is one supervisor…and I can just imagine the stress they live…

right2bright on March 6, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Why is Jay last name so indicative of who he is…just another Carney…

right2bright on March 6, 2013 at 4:02 PM

“On the issue of the janitors, if you work for an hourly wage and you earn overtime, and you depend on that overtime to make ends meet, it is simply a fact that a reduction in overtime is a reduction in your pay.”

But when my employer has to take out more of my paycheck to cover increase in income tax and increase my share of healthcare costs….This isn’t a reduction in pay?

Ditkaca on March 6, 2013 at 4:05 PM

ONE BRIGHT SHINNING BALD FACED LIE THAT THE MSM WILL NOT TOUCH.

The Al Gore, Michael Mann , Global Warming, Climate Change, CO2 kills , Earth First , Greenpeace, Serria Club, Union of Concerned Sic., etal supported lies.

Take the Democrat Party apart one lie at a time.

This one has been shattered as of now, all that holds it together at all is the GNN (Goebbles News Networks).

This part of the foundation of lies has Al Gore sized cracks in it now, shatter it, make it tumble down.

http://www.wattsupwiththat.com

One lie at a time.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on March 6, 2013 at 4:10 PM

The verdict: complete malarkey, as Joe Biden might say

In other words, overtime amounts to only pittance of the overall pay — about $6.50 a week on top of wages of $1,000 a week. That’s much different from Carney’s claim of having to “depend on that overtime to make ends meet.”

…or as Biteme also might say “This is a big F’ing Deal”!

KOOLAID2 on March 6, 2013 at 4:20 PM

The truth, what is that? – - – - Barrack Hussein Obama

sadsushi on March 6, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Mary Katharine, glad you lucked up on the snow storm. A little tune I enjoy whenever the liar in chief is caught lying. Yes, I listen to it quite a bit with the guy 0. ; )

Bmore on March 6, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Sorry about that linked, it sucked, time coded wrong. Liar. I promise. ; )

Bmore on March 6, 2013 at 4:48 PM

It’s not lying, just that the facts are wrong.

Always has been this way for King Barak.

jukin3 on March 6, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Facts are racist. Everybody knows that.

There Goes The Neighborhood on March 7, 2013 at 2:38 AM