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Fed agencies to make sure public feels pain, too

By From page A7 | February 22, 2013

In previous budget battles, federal agencies fought against cuts to their funding by a ploy called “turning out the lights on the Washington Monument.” The theory was that a public aroused by the capital’s great monuments gone dark would demand Congress resolve the problem and get the spotlights back on.

It usually worked.

Federal agencies are preparing a variation of the same strategy if Congress goes through with an $85 billion across-the-board cut in federal spending starting March 1. The effect will not be felt immediately because federal regulations require that most government employees be given 30 days’ notice of furloughs or layoffs. That would buy time for most of the month of March for the White House and Congress to come up with a solution, although if you believe the tough talk coming from both sides, that’s not in the cards.

Pentagon officials said 800,000 civilian employees worldwide would be furloughed one day a week for 22 weeks, an effective pay cut of 20 percent. The uniformed military is exempt from the sequester, but cuts in training, maintenance and equipment replacement will result in what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called “a serious erosion of readiness across the force,” specifically, that by the end of the year, assuming this thing drags on that long, two-thirds of the Army’s combat brigades will be unfit for deployment.

The FBI said it would have to furlough 2,285 employees, including 775 agents, because of the cuts.

The Federal Aviation Administration will furlough 47,000 employees, including air traffic controllers, for an average of 11 days just as the summer travel season is picking up.

Among the 100,000 Treasury employees facing furloughs are Internal Revenue Service clerks and agents just as the tax season goes into full swing, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The public will be affected in ways it might not have expected. The law requires federal inspectors to be on duty at meat and poultry plants. With the inspectors facing 15-day furloughs, many of the nation’s 6,000 meat-production facilities may have to close down temporarily, affecting the supply of meat and chicken.

Although it’s idle talk so far, you do hear that the Department of Homeland Security would disproportionately furlough Transportation Security Administration inspectors at Washington’s three airports, meaning long lines and missed flights for members of Congress. It would anger both the flying public and the lawmakers.

That might prove even more effective than turning out the lights at the Washington Monument. Just in case, allow extra time if you’re flying to and from the capital.

Scripps Howard News Service

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Discussion | 5 comments

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  • PatriotFebruary 22, 2013 - 6:02 am

    This is all a scare tactic from the liberals..$85 million is like a drop in the bucket to a much bigger problem in this budget. If they choose to go after their federal workers so be it as the rest of us have been feeling the pain for the last 4 years. "Smoking mirrors" again and the liberal media is sensationaling this again!

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  • Rich GiddensFebruary 22, 2013 - 8:52 am

    Government's over spending and failed missions are what has brought us to the fiscal day of reckoning. I don't think a good economy can be made with the rotten ingrediants Obama and the Democrats are giving us. Obama gets on TV everyday to demand we feed big government even more. The news media seems to like government and its counterproductive ways. Our pleas and petitions fall on deaf ears. Were dealing with a dumbed down electorate, especially in States like New York and California. People out here believe the government exists solely to provide all things to all people despite what the Constitution says and what the founders intended based on preventing what happened to previous world Republics, nations and empires.

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  • Uncle SamFebruary 25, 2013 - 5:29 am

    Looks like the two Tea Party clowns chipped in and comment on stuff they do not know about. They somehow think a drop of $85 billion "across the board" cut will not be felt and can somehow be pushed to something else. Two baffoons that don't know their butt from their head.

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  • PatriotFebruary 25, 2013 - 6:18 am

    Uncle Sam must be a government worker: Clown!

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  • Cousin SamFebruary 25, 2013 - 7:16 am

    Agreed w/Uncle Sam Tea Party people are mentally deranged fools who just want to crash the world and the country because they are so freaking bitter about getting a raw deal.

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