And there it is: The ultimate panic-inducing cherry on top of the sequester-scaremongering sundae. Apart from the devastating, eviscerating, meat-cleaving threats of flight delays, park closures, and whooping cough, the existential threat that is the dreaded sequesteration is going to make it much more difficult for the Department of Homeland Security to perform one of its primary functions: Thwarting terrorism. Via WaPo:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned Monday that her agency would be forced to furlough 5,000 border control agents under mandatory spending cuts, likely allowing more illegal immigrants into the country and potentially compromising national security.
Napolitano said the cuts, known as the sequester, would disrupt the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to conduct customs inspections at ports, leading to increased waiting times for travelers and cargo shipments. Disaster relief funding would be reduced by $1 billion, she added, meaning relief for victims of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy and tornados in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., could be cut. …
Asked if the cuts would make the country more susceptible to acts of terrorism, Napolitano said: “It’s always a threat. We do what we can to minimize the risk, but the sequester makes it awfully, awfully tough.”
There certainly could have been better methods for cutting the federal budget, but all of these increasingly dire warnings are making it sound an awful lot like we’re supposed to believe that every single one of the dollars that the federal government proceeds to spend on our behalf these days is the result of nothing short of absolute necessity, and that not a single one of these departments can possibly afford to trim even the tiniest bit from their budgets with sweeping societal calamity. Is there no amount of money too large to sacrifice to federal stewardship? Has nobody in this administration ever heard of prioritizing? …Evidently not:
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Monday demanded that President Obama’s budget office stop agencies from hiring low-priority employees in order to preserve essential workers in the face of the looming budget sequester. …
Coburn, in a letter to Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeff Zients, wrote Monday that there are 10 “non-essential” job advertisements running on the government’s hiring website, www.usajobs.com. Coburn said freezing hiring for these positions alone would save $1.4 million. …
“Are any of these positions more important than an air traffic controller, a border patrol officer, a food inspector, a TSA screener, or a civilian supporting our men and women in combat in Afghanistan?” Coburn wrote.
The Obama administration has been trotting out Cabinet officials and agency heads in rapid-fire fashion to attest to the many and egregious ways in which Americans’ lives will be totally ruined unless Congress can find it in their obstructionist hearts to compromise just the teeniest bit — but as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said on MSNBC over the weekend, all of the campaigning and over-the-top scaremongering is getting really old, really quickly.
My recommendation to the president is it’s time to stop campaigning. It is time to actually do the job here in Washington D.C. In our second term, for example, last year, we passed one of the most sweeping educational reform laws in the country, giving real choice to our kids, putting right teachers in the classroom. … My advice to the President’s stop the campaigning, stop sending out your cabinet secretaries to scare the American people. Roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of governing.