Throughout the Obama administration, federal agency heads have been depicting an onerous after-effect to the cuts that would result from a failure to head off the budget sequestration. The federal government is required to spell out the consequences to federal workers, but the details are also designed to warn lawmakers that the cuts could have a fearsome result: angry constituents.
Some of the warnings:
• Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week said that automatic cuts, known in Washington budget language as a sequester, would harm the readiness of U.S. fighting forces and he said the “vast majority” of the Defense Department’s 800,000 civilian workers would have to lose one day of work per week, or 20 percent of their pay, for up to 22 weeks, probably starting in late April. The biggest potential losses, in term of total civilian payroll dollars, would be in Virginia, California, Maryland, Texas and Georgia, according to figures provided by the Pentagon.
• On Friday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said cuts of more than $300 million to his agency would mean less money to solve outbreaks, fight hospital infections and keep illnesses overseas from making their way here. For instance, Dr. Tom Frieden said, the cuts could limit the agency’s investigation of a tuberculosis outbreak in Los Angeles.
• At the National Park Service, employees would be furloughed for more than a month, hours would be cut and sensitive areas would be blocked off to the public when there are staff shortages, according to a park service memo obtained by the Associated Press.
The giant sequoias at Yosemite National Park in California would go unprotected from visitors who might trample their shallow roots. At Cape Cod National Seashore, large sections of the Great Beach would close to keep eggs from being destroyed if natural resource managers are cut. Programs on the chopping block include invasive species eradication in Yosemite and comfort stations on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. And in Yosemite, park administrators fear that less frequent trash pickup would potentially attract bears into campgrounds.