Hyperbolic ABC: 'Massive Spending Cuts' to Cause 'Meat Shortages?'

The reporters of Good Morning America, who on Monday briefly questioned Barack Obama's hyperbolic talk about the sequester cuts, have returned to promoting dire warnings of meat shortages and children losing vaccines. Guest co-host Elizabeth Vargas on Wednesday hyped "the grim countdown to the massive spending cuts that will kick in on Friday."

To underline the point, an ABC graphic proclaimed, "Countdown to Massive Cuts: Will Illegal Immigrants Be Released From Jail?" Correspondent Jon Karl parroted Obama: "Each day, the White House's list of terrible things caused by the cuts grows longer, including flight delays, kids losing vaccines, and meat shortages." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Two days ago, in a moment of clarity, Karl acknowledged, "But those cuts, five to seven percent for most government departments, will be phased in over the next seven months."

He added, "And no workers will stay home, furloughed for at least a month."

On Wednesday, however, Karl was back to promoting White House fear-mongering: "...The Department of Homeland Security says it has been forced to release hundreds of undocumented workers back into the United States."

In a CNN opinion piece, CATO senior fellow Michael D. Tanner, explained just how small the cuts actually are:

This year, the sequester would slow the growth in federal spending by just $85 billion, from an expected, pre-sequester budget of $3.64 trillion -- less than a 2.3% reduction. To put that in perspective, the federal government borrows $85 billion every 28 days . In fact, this actually overstates the size of this year's cuts. Because of ongoing contracts and the Byzantine labyrinth of federal budgeting, only $44 billion of that $85 billion will actually be cut from this year's budget.

Despite what the journalists at ABC say, the sequester cuts are hardly "massive."

A transcript of the February 27 segment, which aired at 7:11am EST, follows:


ABC GRAPHIC: Countdown to Massive Cuts: Will Illegal Immigrants Be Released From Jail?

ELIZABETH VARGAS: And we're going to turn, now, to Washington. And the grim countdown to the massive spending cuts that will kick in on Friday. Democrats, Republicans, the President, Congress, all pointing fingers. ABC's Jonathan Karl has more on the story.

JON KARL: Instead of trying to come to an agreement, the two sides are playing the blame game.

JOHN BOEHNER: But, I don't think the President's focused on trying to find a solution.

BARACK OBAMA: There are too many Republicans in Congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch.

KARL: Speaker of the House John Boehner pointed the finger at President Obama.

BOEHNER: Where's the President's plan to avoid the sequester? Have you seen one?

KARL: The President says he has a plan. In fact, the Senate will likely vote on it tomorrow. But it has virtually no chance of passing.

BOEHNER: We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something.

KARL: Each day, the White House's list of terrible things caused by the cuts grows longer, including flight delays, kids losing vaccines, and meat shortages. And now, the Department of Homeland Security says it has been forced to release hundreds of undocumented workers back into the United States. They had been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The President traveled Tuesday to a giant military shipyard in Newport News, Virginia, to highlight how the cuts will hurt families and military readiness. Tomorrow, the Senate will vote for the very first time on competing bills to try to replace these automatic, across-the-board spending cuts. But at this point, Elizabeth, neither side has put forth a plan that has any chance of passing.

VARGAS: Unbelievable. Your sounding a like a broken record every morning, Jon. Hopefully tomorrow it will be different.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org