Carney: White House 'absolutely' didn't deceive over impact of sequester

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The press secretary went on to say that there "are reductions" to the Homeland Security budget, "whether it's those border control" agents or another area. He added that while the "impacts of the sequester would not all be immediate," that they would nevertheless be felt.

"There is no question that when you have these across-the-board budget cuts … the impacts are real and they affect real people," Carney continued.

Henry pressed on, pointing out that Napolitano had warned specifically of "a real impact" from reduced hours for border patrol agents.

"I take your point," Carney said. "Look, this is a moving picture, budgets are big things. You know, outflows and inflows. That's why there are constant adjustments being made at each agency as they deal with their budget."

But Carney defended White House statements calling the sequester cuts indiscriminate and arbitrary, disputing the notion that the administration had been able to pick and choose which programs to cut or which employees to furlough.

"The law is written the way it's written, designed specifically not to allow [those] kind of choices," Carney said.

"As time progresses and savings are made by eliminating a contract, for example … changes about the prognosis for furlough can be made," he added.

The White House has come under fire from some Republicans who accused the president of crying wolf about the impact of the sequester ahead of the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts.

“They just jumped the sharquester,” John Hart, a spokesman for Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn (R), told The Washington Post last month.

The president has also seen his economic poll numbers dip in the weeks since the sequester was implemented, losing an advantage over congressional Republicans when polling respondents were asked who they blame most for the sequester.

Still, the White House has maintained that while not immediately apparent, the effects of the cuts will be profound.

“What’s important to understand is that not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away,” Obama said in a press conference last month. “The pain, though, will be real.”

“The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage to our economy, a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day."