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Final tally of job losses from the federal sequester: One

By   /   May 9, 2014  /   No Comments

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

The Government Accountability Office has finished its analysis of the across-the-board federal budget cuts known as the sequestration and determined that exactly one — yes, one — federal employee lost a government job.

The GAO surveyed 23 federal departments affected by the budget cuts for its 200-plus page analysis released this week. The report shows that most departments had to cancel or limit monetary awards like grant programs, many reduced employee training or travel and seven agencies reported furloughing a total of 770,000 employees for at least one day and up to as many as seven days.

But only one agency actually cut their staff: the U.S. Parole Commission.

NOT SO BAD: The much-feared federal sequestration turned out to be bad news for just one person, a federal employee in the Department of Justice who was the only one fired as a result of the cuts, according to a new GAO report.

It laid off one person.

One.

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is now calling for a congressional investigation of the sequestration and its effects on the government workforce.

Despite relentless warnings about the dire consequences of sequestration’s budget cuts, it appears sequestration resulted in only one layoff,” Coburn said in a statement. “While that’s good news for federal employees and other workers, it is devastating to the credibility of Washington politicians and administration officials who spent months – and millions of dollars – engaging in a coordinated multi-agency cabinet-level public relations campaign to scare the American people.”

Two of the oft-cited predictions about federal layoffs as a result of the sequestration estimated between 100,000 and 1.5 million jobs would be cut, he said.

“Taxpayers expect us to root our predictions in fact, not ideology and spin,” Coburn said.

Coburn sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, the arm of the White House that handles budgetary issues for the executive branch, seeking answers about layoffs and other staffing cuts at federal agencies.

The OMB issued guidance for how federal departments should deal with the sequestration cuts and had a degree of authority over how those cuts were made.

Starting in March 2013, the sequestration required $85 billion in cuts to all parts of the federal budget. Even though almost all the so-called “cuts” were actually just reductions in planned future spending — as Watchdog.org reported at the time — politicians promised that the effects of the sequester would be cataclysmic.

Media reports at the time painted a very different picture of the sequester.

Driven by the Obama administration’s messaging machine, the sequestration was portrayed as the governmental equivalent of the end of days.

The administration claimed the sequester would mean up to 1,000 fewer FBI officers, mass layoffs of government meat and food inspectors, and welfare benefit cuts for low-income women and children.

“Sequester is a blunt and indiscriminate instrument that poses a serious threat to our national security, domestic priorities and the economy,” Danny Werfel, a senior official at the White House budget office, told reporters at a briefing.

Then, when sequestration went into effect in March, the White House did its best to make it look as devastating as possible. Tours of the White House were canclled, military bands stopped performing and national parks and monuments were closed — even some that did not require anyone to staff them.

Meanwhile, the feds posted more than 400 job openings during the first week the sequester was in effect. Assuming more than two of those job openings were filled, it would mean the federal government actually hired more people during the sequester period than it laid off.

In the aftermath, the nation trudged onward and Republicans took the blame for forcing the budget cuts into place.

Then the budget cuts were repealed entirely in September 2013 when Congress passed a new budget, albeit one with far less media fanfare and doom-and-gloom.

Although, to be fair, the sequestration must have been pretty rough if you were that one guy who got canned.

Contact Eric Boehm at EBoehm@Watchdog.org. Follow @EricBoehm87 and @WatchdogOrg on Twitter.

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Eric is a reporter for Watchdog.org and former bureau chief for Pennsylvania Independent. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enjoys great weather and low taxes while writing about state governments, pensions, labor issues and economic/civil liberty. Previously, he worked for more than three years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, covering Pennsylvania state politics and occasionally sneaking across the border to Delaware to buy six-packs of beer. He has also lived (in order of desirability) in Brussels, Belgium, Pennsburg, Pa., Fairfield, Conn., and Rochester, N.Y. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and elsewhere. He received a bachelor's degree from Fairfield University in 2009, but he refuses to hang on his wall until his student loans are fully paid off sometime in the mid-2020s. When he steps away from the computer, he enjoys drinking craft beers in classy bars, cheering for an eclectic mix of favorite sports teams (mostly based in Philadelphia) and traveling to new places.

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