President Obama and top administration officials are struggling with accuracy in explaining the impact of billions in federal budget cuts known as sequester that kicked in Saturday morning — even getting called out by a Capitol Hill superintendent about furloughs for support staffers.
Carlos Elias, the Capitol Building superintendent, sent out a memo Friday reminding staffers that the current sequestration plan does not include “reductions in force or furloughs” and that “pay and benefit of each of our employees will not be impacted.”
Though not directly mentioning Obama by name, Elias also said in the memo that a “high-ranking official said employees that clean and maintain the U.S. Capitol will receive a cut in pay.”
Hours before the memo was released, the president, in what appears to be the administration’s attempt to maximize the potential impact of the cuts, said at a press conference: “Starting tomorrow everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol. Now that Congress has left, somebody’s going to be vacuuming and cleaning those floors and throwing out the garbage. They’re going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they’ve got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real.”
The cuts were proposed by the president and agreed upon by Congress in 2011 after Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on a more measured way to reduce the deficit. The $85 billion in cuts in 2013 to the Defense Department and domestic programs will be more like $45 billion when pro-rated this year.