Sequester on the Rocks: At TIME 100 Cocktail Gala, Air Traffic Delays Stir Debate

As sequestration begins to take its toll, TIME 100 honorees Valerie Jarrett and Senator Rand Paul have opposing views of who's to blame.

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United States Senator Rand Paul attends the 2013 Time 100 Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2013 in New York City.

Correction appended at 2:40 p.m.

American travelers began to feel the bite of across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration this week, as the Federal Aviation Administration furloughed 1,500 air traffic controllers, prompting delays for hundreds of flights. By law, sequestration requires uniform cuts to every “program, project or activity” not explicitly exempted by Congress, including the FAA, and the Republican-led House was explicit about that in its report for fiscal year 2013 appropriations for the agency. President Obama, who opposes the cuts, nevertheless gets to decide some matters of timing, via powers given to the White House Office of Management and Budget under the law — and the furloughing of 10% of the nation’s 15,000 air traffic controllers is among the first budget reductions to take effect.

(MORE: Sequestration Begins to Bite)

As the cuts’ impact worsens, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and White House adviser Valerie Jarrett — both of whom were honored Tuesday night at the TIME 100 gala in New York City — had strikingly different versions of who’s to blame.

“I think that it’s inexcusable to take important things like travel, air traffic controllers or meat inspectors or something that most of us agree we should have, and play a game with it,” Sen. Paul said. “The same day that [President Obama] announces that we have no self-guided tours in the White House, he sends $250 million to Egypt. We’ve got money. It’s a matter of priorities, and a good leader wouldn’t cut essential services. So I think it’s a bit of a charade and it ought to stop.”

Republicans are accusing the White House of playing politics with the budget cuts, arguing that the president is front-loading cuts to vital programs like air traffic control in order to force Congress to lift sequestration altogether. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried and failed on Tuesday to move a bill through the Senate that would have canceled the cuts for the remaining five months of the fiscal year.

(MORE: ‘We’re Not Bending’ to Terrorism: Vice President Biden at Emotional TIME 100 Gala)

But Jarrett, an adviser to the president, says the problem with sequestration isn’t about funding priorities. The issue, she says, is the imposition of sequestration itself.

“We don’t [have the money],” said Jarrett, in response to Paul’s statement. “And that was the whole point of why we wanted to avoid the sequester, because it doesn’t provide you with the flexibility that you need. We made it very clear last year what the consequences would be if we didn’t take the appropriate action to turn it off. Obviously, this is something we want to avoid if we could.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Democrats have accused the White House of playing politics on sequestration. That is inaccurate and the post has been updated.

57 comments
LaLummus
LaLummus

t ever Obama does to make it worst we all know it comes from him not the republicans he is entirely responsible for all the problems.

RonWillison
RonWillison

Josh, While articles and opinions abound promoting a left right conflict. Our priorities as a responsible nation should be based on common sence. Not individual political gain. Another thing American's need to keep in mind is. If our government was not suffering from what has now been classified as "HOARDERS SYNDROME" its highly likely that the hundreds of obsolete military bases scattered around the world, and in essence nothing more than holdovers from the cold war were shut down or turned over to the host countries. We wouldn't be having this conversation. By throwing good money at bad makes two statements about both the intent and mental state of those running the show in Washington DC. By being willing to take money from an already overtaxed lower or middle class working citizen and sending it off by the Trillions to foreign Governments and bailing out International Banks under the so called Foreign Aid programs. They are one, showing a callus disregard for the health and well being of America, and two clearly indicating that there is an agenda not in compliance with the the US Constitution and the intent of our founding fathers contained within that document. 

Subyz
Subyz

This whole thing is orchestrated to exert PAIN on citizens to punish legislators and exert pressure on them for having the audacity to cut the most minute sliver of spending INCREASE. Lots more planes use to flow smoothly for less money than now and it could today if President Obama wanted them to. The government is still spending money like drunken sailors on things like PR to make you love and appreciate Obamacare, Russian helicopters for Afghanistan, 'Obamaphones', etc, etc... School districts use to do the same in NY when voters rejected a school budget. Rather than cut items citizens wanted cut, they cut bus transportation to make parents have to take their kids to school and the lunch program to make them pack lunches! How dare anyone think we could function with less!

SteveHarper
SteveHarper

why didnt wonder boy ask her about ovomits concerts,his vacations with his family of hoodrats

ShaneMayfield
ShaneMayfield

Why no cut in vacations for the Obama family?

webwog
webwog

The government is succeeding in its attempt to divert citizens' attention from the real objective of sequestration.  Fellow citizens:  the  true objective of "U.S. sequestration" is to allow China the time and space to build up its military power and become the other key player in the next Cold War.  Go back to the history of how the defunct USSR became the key player of the first Cold War.  History repeats.  Time is needed to groom a country like China become a worthy war-like nation.  Freedom of space is necessary for China to openly deploy its military and naval forces from its secluded seaports and expand its operating area of responsibility by "sequestering" or constricting U.S. naval and military forces from operating in the Asia-Pacific region.  At least, 20 years from now you will come to see the truth of this foresight come into fruition and reality.  I will not live to see it happen either.  Just remember this. 

LyndaBloomberg
LyndaBloomberg

Its not just the Air Traffic controllers who are furloughed.  The Technicians are as well.  So as that equipment breaks and there's no one to fix it or there are no spare parts, flights will be delayed or cancelled.  You can have all the air traffic controllers in the world on duty but if the equipment breaks... nothing moves.


WulfeN.Straat
WulfeN.Straat

Sequestration doesn’t seem so bad, does it?  Hey, after all, we just went through the date, and we’re all still here.  Nothing happened.  We survived.  Yeah!  YAAAY.

No, you idiots.  You didn’t survive.  Sequestration is economic surrender.  It’s not recession.  It’s not another Great Depression.  Sequestration is shutting the lights down in America, one light at a time...forever.  Yeah, you may not be the one who’s feeling it right now, but your own light is about to go out.

You’ve allowed sequestration to go into effect.  You’ve surrendered America.  You lost the war to China.  Thank Boehner for that.  Thank Cantor.  Thank everyone of those miserable human beings who made us surrender to China.

webwog
webwog

"In 2010, the U.S. federal budget deficit was $1.3 trillion."  

This is inaccurate because in 2000, the deficit was already $7 Trillion !  Media misleading the readers again! Hello.



marshal
marshal

Just the same thing every time. Programs and agencies that are important to the majority are impacted and yet money is being spent, like the example of sending money to Egypt or providing free cell phones. What? the? Do hundreds of people have to die in a plane crash to get the government off their hind ends? Why not furlough the other 30,000 employees of of the FAA? Why the air traffic controllers? Because the public will be impacted and start screaming and the FAA will get it's full funding.

JimMiller1
JimMiller1

Jarrett and her ilk are mouthpieces for this Liar-In-Chief that 51% of the country believe in. Try asking the President a direct question about it and you will see evasiveness like you've never seen before. Try something like, "Why are you funding studies on lesbian's eating habits, but closing White House tours to the citizen's that own it?" or something crazy like "Can you just admit, you don't know what you're doing?".

Winrobaaa
Winrobaaa

Idiot Jarrett.  Weak argument.  You and Obama wanted so you got it.  Live with it.

dockay77
dockay77

It does not matter who suggested  the sequester, they need to fix it.  I know its a law, so blame it on that. People do know this is not President Obama's fault. Oh look the sun is out today. I guess President Obama is doing his job. Since he is God now. Get real lawmakers, give this man the help he needs to help all of the American people. You are not hurting him, he has a job and so does all of Congress with health bebefits.


patriot1742
patriot1742

Obama wanted the sequester two years ago and got it - now he wants to change the rules - just more of the same from very small people - Moochelle's vacations could fund most of the projects.

DorothyGrissom
DorothyGrissom

If Obama thought the sequester was so wrong why did he propose it in the first place? Total amateurish lack of leadership.

JustinStaszewski
JustinStaszewski

Thanks for deleting my commment, Time.  You White House shills.

roberson.bd
roberson.bd

Here's what gets me, and you can debate about this all you want.

There was a motion that Rubio (if I remember right) and a few other Reps tried to pass before the deadline that Reid and the Dems shot down without a second thought.  It was a measure to allow the President to direct the impact of those cuts specifically instead of a across-the-board measure.

This is the SAME THING that the president said he would do during the 2008 campaign!  Instead of going and cutting the budget with an axe, taking a scalpel and go "line-by-line".   He said this REPEATEDLY during the debates and elsewhere.   


Guess what folks, NEVER DID IT.

KristieDixon
KristieDixon

Valerie Jarrett, who still has not proven any credentials, needs to learn to leave the governing of this nation to the ELECTED officials.

susan5042
susan5042

How can she justify him sending money to Egypt and in the same breath say we don't have money??? Can't have it both ways!

bobcn
bobcn

@ShaneMayfield

"Why no cut in vacations for the Obama family"

Because only an idiot would want to do that.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@webwog Not exactly. The USSR became a Super Power by bearing the brunt of the land war against Germany. Remember when  World War 2 ended the Soviet Union had the largest and most experienced army in the world along with possession of most of Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Korean Peninsula.

JimDunbar
JimDunbar

Good..the public should have been yelling long ago and not just when they're flights are cancelled or late. Plus...I would rather give a potential enemy $500M to prevent a war and the hell with Americans being late to a Disney vacation.

outsider
outsider

@JimMiller1  

I'm curioius -= why don't you just come out and say, the sequester should only affect poor people, not me?

The GOP forced sequestration, tried to blame Obama, and are now complaining that it's doing what he said it would do?

GImme a break. 

The right wing are all just tools. The leaders are liars, and the followers are - let's just say i'm surprised they can get dressed by themselves in the morning. 

tom.litton
tom.litton

@JimMiller1I was curious about the obesity study so i looked it up:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/lesbian-obesity-medical-study_n_2868391.html

It's a study on why people are obese, which, sense obesity costs tax payers $39 Billion a year (source: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2004-01-21-taxes-obesity_x.htm), you can understand why spending a very small fraction of that ($1.5 million) to try to understand why would be a good investment.

But i suppose, like a lot of politicians, it doesn't matter to you if the government spends more money than necessary, so long as it lines the "right" pockets....


SharonWarrenBenter
SharonWarrenBenter

The ONLY sembelence of help I would ever give obutthead is a swift kick in the ass out of this country. I wouldn't give him a glass of water if he were on fire. The jerk needs to vacate our Whitehouse, and take his spawn back to Kenya.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@patriot1742 Moochelle? Out of curiosity were you bleating Barbbarra, when the Bushes were taking three times the vacation time that the Obamas have? Or were you aware that Boehner wanted this as badly if not more so than Obama did.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@DorothyGrissom It's still significantly better than the US defaulting, which was the alternative at the time.

curt3rd
curt3rd

I was gonna make the same comment.  You notice Time didnt mention any of that in the article.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@KristieDixon Elected officials are experts at getting elected, not at running the country.  They hire other people for that.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@susan5042 There 2 different accounts, and the president can't simply transfer the money from one to another.  That takes an act of congress.

So yes, she can justify him sending money to Egypt and then say the FAA doesn't have the money.

JohnDavidChandler
JohnDavidChandler

@mantisdragon91 @ShaneMayfield I heard once that two wrongs make a right... just kidding, it's actually an informal logical fallacy. Stop trying to dredge up support for what is clearly a poor decision by Obama by invoking the specter of GWB. Even if you could deductively assert that Bush was worse in any given parameter, it doesn't in some way lessen a poor decision of Obama's just because you've juxtaposed it with one you feel is worse...

I remember when I was a kid I thought that becoming an adult would be great, people would go to college and come away with critical thinking faculties so I wouldn't have to endure their ubiquitous lack of rationalism. Oh to be a young ideologue... 

webwog
webwog

@mantisdragon91 @webwog  "Not exactly?"  You need to take a closer research on how Russia transitioned to become the USSR, starting from the Kerensky government.  There was a reason for the USSR being labeled a "Super Power" under a controlled economy in all that time.  Do your research most importantly, the "who," behind the rise and fall of the USSR.  The "who" has something to do with this sequestration strategy and the current economic events today and in the future. Anyway, the former Soviet Union and the 20th century are now history.  If you are going to use the USSR paradigm as template superimposed on the evolving China experience today, the Cold War between the U.S. and China is what would occur in this 21st century.  Before the end of this 21st century, China's economy and China, the superpower, consequently will also fall like the USSR had been.

webwog
webwog

@tom.litton @webwog What's the difference? Total national debt or annual budget deficit?  It's all borrowed "money" loaned by the Feds to the U.S. government which will never be repaid (and worse, the Feds loaned that money from out-of-nothing).

JimMiller1
JimMiller1

@outsider2011 @JimMiller1 

If you are insinuating that Obama is blamed for coming up with the sequester, than yes, he is. It was the White House plan that created it. It's doing what he said because he designed it. Liberal or Conservative, if you can't "win" a conversation you immediately change the subject or call people names or try to degrade them. Sad.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@SharonWarrenBenter Your White House? So you are more important that the majority of Americans who elected him not once but twice? Good to know.

JebPatterson
JebPatterson

@tom.litton @DorothyGrissom  

 Or the other alternative of stop spending money on wars we can't afford and sending money to other countries governments that only funds the rich over there.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@webwog @mantisdragon91 Russia transitioned to becoming the USSR as a result of a revolution at the tail end of World War1 followed by a blood civil war between the Whites and the Reds. But by all means feel free to lecture away.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@SharonWarrenBenter And yet its rural whites in states that tend to vote GOP that tend to connect the majority of the handouts. Care to explain that disparity in your perception and the actual reality?

SharonWarrenBenter
SharonWarrenBenter

You wonder? It would stand to reason that those who receive most of the free perks aren't going to be quick to opppose the hand that feeds them.

Besides, there are many "people of color" who have actual intelligent political views. Obama is not one of them. Not by any stretch of one's imagination.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@JebPatterson @tom.litton @DorothyGrissom  

If your talking about eliminating all foreign aid, then that would take a significant shift of US foreign policy.  

Right now the money is spent to achieve US objectives that would otherwise cost a lot more one way or another.  For example, we give a lot of money to pakistan to help stabilize the government in an effort to keep nuclear weapons/know how out of terrorist hands.   If the government did collapse, we would likely need to invade the country in order to ensure that didn't happen, which would be much more expensive.  

You can argue the effectiveness of any particular aid, but if you wanted me to jump on board for eliminating all foreign aid, then you would have to convince me the objectives the aid serves could be achieved in a more cost effective way, or they are not needed.