Obama administration warns of grim consequences when cuts kick in
To raise awareness, the Obama Administration is pointing to specific programs and departments that would be affected by automatic budget cuts set to begin March 1, including the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Parks Service.
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— At the National Park Service, employees would be furloughed, 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.Skip to next paragraph
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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.
Gettysburg would decrease by one-fifth the number of school children who learn about the historic battle that was a turning point in the Civil War. And in Yosemite, park administrators fear that less frequent trash pickup would potentially attract bears into campgrounds.
Over the years, budget threats have inevitably resulted in grim warnings, no matter which administration, about calamitous consequences. Many have been avoided; others have been short-lived. But Obama administration officials say they are not exaggerating or bluffing.
The cuts, with few exceptions, are designed to hit all accounts equally. The law gives Obama little leeway to ease the pain.
Even if granted flexibility to apply the cuts with more discretion — a legislative step Republicans say they might pursue — White House officials say that would still require severe reductions.
"It's essentially rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said of such a proposal in a recent interview.
LaHood, in response to a question, denied that he was simply describing a worst-case scenario that would scare the public and put pressure on Republican lawmakers.
"What I'm trying to do," he said, "is wake up members of the Congress with the idea that they need to come to the table so we don't have to have this kind of calamity in air services in America."