Since the sequester began to go into effect last Friday, Republicans have been in a celebratory mood, cheering the fact that March 1 came and went without the world ending even though sequestration's impacts were never expected to be widely felt on the first day.
But their sunny disposition soured this week when the Obama administration announced it was canceling White House tours to comply with sequester cuts. House Republicans went batshit crazy because no matter how much they may hate President Obama, they love handing out White House tour tickets as perks to campaign contributors and political constituents. House Speaker John Boehner even said he'd rather have seen layoffs than the cancellation of tours.
It was a pretty embarrassing display of GOP priorities, but instead of doing the smart thing and shutting up, Boehner continued harping on the tour cancellation during his weekly press conference on Thursday. "I'd like to start this morning by letting the American people know that the United States Capitol is open to visitors," Boehner said. "I think it's disappointing that the Obama administration didn't follow our lead and find savings in other parts of their budget."
And what might those "other" savings be? According to the Secret Service:
The reason for the cancellations, an official with the Secret Service told NBC News, is because the Uniformed Division Officers normally tasked with securing the tours will be reassigned to other security posts at the White House. The move will reduce overtime costs and may reduce the number of furloughs the Secret Service could potentially face, according to the official.
I guess in John Boehner's world, anything is better than eliminating one of Congress's political perks, no matter who gets furloughed or laid off. As long as its somebody else getting the shaft, it's not his problem to worry about.
But even though the White House tour cancellation is the only thing that has Republicans upset about the sequester, there's plenty to be mad about. Here's a perfect example, via HuffPost Hill: The State of Oregon has posted an online calculator showing recipients of unemployment insurance how much their payments will decrease starting in April due to the sequestration.
According to the calculator, if you had been receiving $300 per week in emergency unemployment insurance, you'll start receiving $267 in April thanks to the sequester. That's the kind of problem House Republicans should be trying to fix. Instead, all they can think about is getting back their precious White House tours.
10:11 AM PT: If you're interested, here's more detailed numbers behind the tour cancellation, which the Secret Service says will save $74,000 per week, or about $2 million for the rest of the fiscal year.
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