Right-Wing Media Downplay Economic Harm From Sequester Cuts

Right-wing media are downplaying the economic consequences of across-the-board spending cuts. In fact, economists agree that those cuts - known as the sequester - would lead to thousands of jobs lost and decreased economic growth.

Right-Wing Media Claim Sequester Cuts Are A “Rounding Error,” “Chump Change”

Fox's Stuart Varney Dismissed The Harmful Effects Of Sequester Cuts. On Fox & Friends, Stuart Varney claimed that the sequestration cut was offset by $60 billion in Sandy relief spending and so is just a minor cut. He concluded: “Are you trying to tell me what we can't cut 2 percent out of a $3.6 trillion economy without facing utter disaster? That's nonsense.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/20/13]

Rush Limbaugh Claimed The Economy Wouldn't Lose 750,000 Jobs Because Of The Automatic Cuts, Which He Called “Chump Change.” After playing an audio clip from CNN, Rush Limbaugh said about the sequester, “we're talking about four, or 85 billion, and that's - and by the way, cut that in half, because half that's defense, half that's social spending, but total $85 billion out of a budget that's nearly 4 trillion - it's chump change.” He added: “750,000 jobs lost because of this? So - 750,000 jobs, divided by $45 billion, there - that - well, it's not true, but it's not possible. There's no - there aren't 750,000 jobs being cut.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show2/19/13]

Fox's Sean Hannity: “Demagogue” Obama's Comments On Effects Of Spending Cuts Are “Madness.” On his syndicated radio show, Sean Hannity called Obama a “demagogue” for describing the harmful impacts of sequestration on the economy, adding that Obama's comments were “madness” and “hysteria.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show2/19/13]

Fox's Neil Cavuto: Sequester Is “The Equivalent Of A Rounding Error On A Rounding Error.” Fox News host Neil Cavuto said “look at our debt. Look at the 85 billion bucks we're cutting. Look at the $3.5 trillion budget from which we are cutting it. And then I want you to ask yourself this: If this is the kind of reaction cutting the equivalent of a rounding error on a rounding error gets you in Washington, what happens when we really have to get cutting in Washington?” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto2/19/13]

Fox's Michelle Malkin: Sequester Is “Piddly-Tiddly Winks $85 Billion.” Appearing on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox contributor Michelle Malkin described sequestration as “a 2.4 percent cut in the 2013 budget, this piddly-tiddly winks $85 billion that's not really a cut. Can we put that in ghost quotes every time they say it?” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto2/19/13]

Economic Forecasters Predict Large Job Losses If Sequester Occurs

Macroeconomic Advisors: “Sequestration Would Cost Roughly 700,000 jobs.” Forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers' concluded that "[b]y the end of 2014, the sequestration would cost roughly 700,000 jobs (including reductions in armed forces)," adding that “higher unemployment would linger for several years.” [Macroadvisers, 2/19/13]

CBO's Elmendorf: Sequester Could Cost 750,000 Jobs. Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf reportedly told a congressional hearing that “we think [the sequester] would reduce the level of employment by the end of the year [by] about 750,000 jobs.” [BuzzFeed, 2/13/13]

Bipartisan Policy Center Expects “Approximately One Million Lost Jobs Due To Sequester.” Bipartisan Policy Center senior economic policy director Steve Bell wrote that "[o]ur estimate of approximately one million lost jobs due to sequester remains our base case if a full sequester occurs as scheduled on March 1." [Bipartisan Policy Center,1/29/13]

Bipartisan Policy Center: If Sequestration Occurs, GDP Growth Will Slow In The Coming Year. The Bipartisan Policy Center, citing the CBO, asserted that there would be a “decline of 0.7 percent in 2013 gross domestic product (GDP) growth because of the ripple effect of the sequester cuts on smaller businesses and on government personnel.” [Bipartisan Policy Center, 1/29/13]

And Economic Forecasters Predict Slowed Economic Growth From Sequester Cuts

JPMorgan Economist: Sequestration Will Likely Cause Decline In GDP Growth. JPMorgan economist Mike Feroli told Yahoo! Finance that he has had to revise his GDP growth estimates down to account for the effects of the sequester:

The end toll is about a quarter of a point from JPMorgan's previous projection for this year, with most of the pullback occurring in the second half. Feroli still expects growth of 1.5% in the first half of the year. However, he's now looking for 1.9% real GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 from the fourth quarter of 2012, vs. 2.1% prior. [Yahoo! Finance, The Exchange, 2/14/13]

Goldman Sachs Economists: Sequestration Could Result In A Reduced GDP Growth Estimate Of “0.5-1.0 Percentage Points.” The Wall Street Journal reported that Goldman Sachs economists said that “the sequester -- if totally implemented -- could reduce its gross-domestic-product growth estimate by 0.5-1.0 percentage points in the first and second quarters.” [The Wall Street Journal, Real Time Economics, 1/23/13]

Macroeconomic Advisers: “Sequestration Would Reduce Our Forecast Of Growth During 2013 By 0.6 Percentage Point.” The Macroadvisers blog indicated that sequestration would result in a decline in GDP growth during 2013:

The sequestration would reduce our forecast of growth during 2013 by 0.6 percentage point (to 2.0%) but then, assuming investors expect the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to delay raising the federal funds rate, boost growth by 0.1 percentage point (to 3.4%) in 2014. [Macroadvisers, 2/19/13]