“According to an internal email,” Arkansas Republican Rep. Tim Griffin said in a statement posted on his website Tuesday, “Charles Brown, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) eastern regional director, asked his superiors about how much flexibility he had in trimming his program’s budget in light of the sequester. The response from the Obama Administration was clear:”
“We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that ‘APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 States in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs.’ So, it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.” (emphasis added)
“This email confirms what many Americans have suspected,” Griffin concluded of the directive. “The Obama Administration is doing everything they can to make sure their worst predictions come true and to maximize the pain of the Sequester cuts for political gain. Instead of cutting waste, the Obama Administration is hurting workers. President Obama should stop protecting wasteful government spending.”
According to Griffin, the email came from someone in the USDA’s Office of Budget and Program Analysis (OBPA).
"Located in USDA's Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building," the OBPA website explains, "the Office of Budget and Program Analysis' major activities consist of coordinating the preparation of the Department's budget estimates, legislative reports and regulations.
OBPA provides direction and administration of the Department's budgetary functions including development, presentation, and administration of the budget; reviews program and legislative proposals for program and budget related implications; and analyzes program and resource issues and alternatives.
According to The Washington Times, calls to Brown and the main APHIS office in Washington for comment have gone unanswered.
“If we have flexibility, we’re going to try to use it to make sure we use sequester in the most equitable and least disruptive way,” The Washington Times quoted Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack telling Rep. Kristi L. Noem. “There are some circumstances, and we’ve talked a lot about the meat inspection, where we do not have that flexibility because there are so few accounts.”
The Secretary of Agriculture is a member of the president's cabinet who takes the lead with USDA for the development of implementing policy on farming, agriculture and food. He is the main adviser to the president when it comes to recommending policy on interest of farmers, ranchers and general consumers.
"We provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management," reads the USDA Mission Statement.
According to his biography on the USDA website, Vilsack "has worked to implement President Obama's agenda to put Americans back to work and create an economy built to last."
Vilsack oversees the APHIS.
The Huffington Post reported Feb. 8 that the Obama administration warned the sequester may cause furloughs for every U.S. meat and poultry inspector for two weeks -- essentially causing a shut-down of the entire meat industry -- a move meat processors and packers say would impact customers and devastate the industry.
As Examiner reported Tuesday, claims made by the administration regarding the effects of the sequester – from long lines already existing at airports to janitors on Capitol Hill getting pay-cuts -- have already proven to be inaccurate.
Citing the sequester, the National Park Service posted an announcement on its website that the government has even stopped allowing Americans to tour the White House.
Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013, until further notice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours.
We very much regret having to take this action, particularly during the popular spring touring season. For updates regarding this situation, please contact the White House Visitors Office 24 hour hotline at (202) 456-7041.
1) the FDA could conduct up to 2,100 fewer food inspections, and 2) that the USDA may have to eliminate export inspections and enact two-week furloughs for FSIS employees, which would pull federal inspectors out of slaughterhouses.
"Could conduct" fewer inspections -- and "may have to eliminate export inspections and twoo-week furloughs."
"There is not much we can do when Congress says to cut every line item by a certain percent," Vilsack insisted of the latest warning of hardship for the American people.
However, as the the White House has already admitted three times, it was the Obama administration -- not Congress -- that dictated "every line item" of cuts in the sequester.
“Now facing the consequences” of having to take ownership of his sequester – coupled with his frustration over Republican successes in blocking his effort to raise taxes and pass gun-control measures – The Washington Post reported Sunday that Obama is now “focused” on destroying Republicans and winning back control of the House to “forward” his agenda, “which he and his advisers believe will be crucial to the outcome of his second term and to his legacy as president.”
“For perhaps the first time in the history of the United States,” The Washington Examiner reported Monday, “it is in the political interest of a president to inflict maximum pain on the American people.”