House Dem says Obama administration 'at times' overstated sequester damage

The Obama administration has at times overstated the damage from the sequester, a senior House Democrat said Wednesday.

“Maybe at times there’s been an overstatement,” Rep. Sander Levin (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview on MSNBC.

“But the basic fact remains — sequestration is a harmful idea. It’s going to hurt in many, many respects,” Levin said.

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Republicans have accused President Obama and Democrats of over-dramatizing the effects of the $85 billion in spending cuts.

The White House has issued a laundry list of warnings that includes long lines at airports, delays in federal prosecutions and fewer or slower mean inspections. More broadly, it has argued the cuts will hurt an economy slowly recovering from the recession.

Yet on Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high as investors shrugged off Washington’s fears. The Dow was up again at midday Wednesday.

Levin argued on Wednesday that despite the rising stock market, cuts from the sequester would eventually “hurt the economy” if nothing is done to address them.

“The fact the market is up one day, and I think that’s a positive development, it shows the economic plans of the president basically have been helping,” he said. “But I think you’ll see a dip if sequester continues. It’s going to hurt defense, it’s going to hurt economic growth, it’s going to hurt lots of basic programs for the American people.”

The administration on Tuesday said it would cancel tours of the White House because of the sequester, and furloughs for government workers begin in April. Levin said publicly financed programs in his home state of Michigan were already being impacted.

“I was just reading press releases from Michigan,” he said. “NIA funding in Michigan, $30 million is going to be lost in basic research. In Oakland County and Livingston County they’re going to start cutting hours for teachers in Head Start. So there’s reality here.”

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