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Probe Finds White House Wanted to Make Sequestration as ‘Painful as Possible’ for Rural Schools

Over USDA objections, OMB ordered that fiscal year 2012 disbursements be retroactively docked for 2013 sequestration.

by
Bridget Johnson

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January 14, 2014 - 6:17 pm
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WASHINGTON — A House Natural Resources Committee investigation has found that President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget ordered that sequestration cuts be applied retroactively to funding for rural schools over the opposition of the Agriculture Department.

The committee’s report released today, “A Less Secure Future for Rural Schools: An Investigation into the Obama Administration’s Questionable Application of the Sequester to the Secure Rural Schools Program,” detailed how last February the USDA had determined 2013 sequestration wouldn’t apply to 2012 funds that had already been distributed in the program. The White House stepped in and overruled the USDA, though both agencies haven’t turned over numerous subpoenaed documents that could reveal more behind the decision.

The Secure Rural Schools program helps provide rural counties with funds for teachers, schools, police officers, emergency services and infrastructure — “necessary because the federal government had failed to uphold its century-old promise to actively manage our national forest to provide a stable revenue stream for rural counties containing national forest land,” Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said in reference to the timber industry link.

The program dates back to a 2000 bill, which was extended in July 2012 for that fiscal year. The $323 million in funds were doled out to 41 states by the USDA in January 2013. But two months later, after sequestration went into effect, the Obama administration announced it wanted $17.9 million back — prompting bipartisan backlash from governors and congressional representatives of the affected states.

“The Obama administration appeared intent on making this sequester as painful and visible as possible, and this was another example. Instead of working with Congress to make responsible cuts and reforms, the administration took the political opportunity to go after funds used to pay teachers and police salaries,” Hastings said at a hearing on the report today.

The chairman expressed his “frustration and disappointment in the Obama administration for repeatedly stonewalling Congress and stalling our legitimate oversight efforts” — ignoring requests for documentation and forcing the committee to issue subpoenas. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack turned down a request to testify, as did U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, USDA General Counsel Ramona Romero, and OMB Director for Budget Brian Deese.

The only witness sent by the administration was USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Bonnie.

Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said it was a case of “you create a bad law, the administration applies the bad law.”

“It’s nothing really to investigate here. But we can waste a couple hours on it instead of doing something proactive to try and figure out how we are going to better provide for counties, schools and economic activity in rural areas,” DeFazio said.

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Top Rated Comments   
Obama lost 80% of rural districts in 2008. The strong suspicion is that he ordered more pain to rural areas in the car dealership closings see:
http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/07/race_played_role_in_obama_car.html

I can testify personally to how hard it is to find a car in rural districts after that politically biased dealership massacre (yes they were quite political despite Heritage's too early done report that the closings were not political). I had a buyer drive 350+ miles each way from northwestern PA to SE PA just to buy a used car from a decent neighborhood. Her area up near Erie was very rural and very impoverished. There were simply NO used cars to be found up there. Note that was just prior to the fracking boom, likely things are better there now.

Car dealerships were often among the biggest employers and they are a key economic powerhouse in a rural area.

Obama has a "hate on" for rural America, that seems clear enough. Stanley Kurtz's books link to his fondness for Urban Planning. Probably has more than a few roots.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Duh ... AGENDA 21. No one should be allowed to lived outside big city plantations where they can be properly controlled / culled.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
DeFazio was closer than usual. what he meant was," You elect thugs and sociopaths to government and you get the government you elected."
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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Don't forget that the IRS targeting of conservative groups has not been addressed, is ongoing, and will only get worse going into the 2014 and 2016 elections.

This Administration, and the Beltway class, do not care even after they are caught - the lying and lawbreaking continue at the same pace. If the Senate somehow changes hands in 2014, this White House will accelerate poisoning the country with "pen and telephone" to get even.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
End DC control over our lives and schools . . it is so safe and simple that all politicians in DC hate this and do not want citizens to discover the true power we have.

http://articlevprojecttorestoreliberty.com/take-action.html
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
A case in point. During the shutdown this Whitehouse closed down a section of road in East Tennessee owned by the National Park Service. This road NEVER touches the Great Smoky Mountains proper, but they do own the right of way. Along this road is access to a community, with people, with children and elderly, for which the road is the only rational means of getting to school, work, grocery store, hospital, etc. There is another way in and out, but it is far more difficult, and dangerous, to use. So closing the "government" road isolated this community effectively closing the schools, hospitals and stores for those people, which is what this White House did. The fact that this area tends to be republican undoubtedly factored into the decision as this is not the first time Obama has attempted to "stick" it to the area. They've also closed all of the campgrounds which were primarily used by locals, and they remain closed. Those used by your more general tourists, and not just locals, remains open. And unlike Christie's "BridgeGate" which inconvenienced people for a couple of hours, this administrations actions put people's lives at risk for weeks.

So yes, Obama and the democrats are more than willing to play political games with people's lives. Nothing knew there.

35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Too bad I didn't save the link, but within months of the 2012 election there was a newsblurb that the regime would be taking measures to get 'even' with RED rural, "Bible clinging, gun-toting"America from a multitude of avenues.

This "Secure Rural Schools" program is only ONE of them.

A good many are centered around non-farm related USDA 'programs' where money is being funneled into poor, heavily Dem leaning small communities, rather than into avenues that could assist the general citizenry.

Read ALL of Sec Vilsacks speeches from the last year, very carefully. He no longer calls USDA's farm program the "Farm Bill", and there is a reason for that.

Small towns and rural communities are overflowing with entitlement leaches, and where do you think this regime plans on parking the next 30 M Amnestied illegals? It is a brilliant plan to turn rural America, especially electorally important Texas, from RED to bright BLUE in one giant fell swoop.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Rural areas are often Republican areas. So it isn't surprising.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
DeFazio should be dragged behind a pickup truck for 20 miles until the outside of his body is as disgusting as the inside.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
This country will be so much better off when this eight year blot on America is no longer in office. We can only hope those who stayed home in 2012 will realize their refusal to vote for someone who wasn't their "first" pick has had dire consequences and will vote in 2014 and 2016 to start a true recovery in America.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jao, you assume that TheWon will voluntarily step down.

I make no such assumption, and am preparing accordingly.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The sounds of silence on this from the MSM will be deafening.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ya don't see too many news pukes getting into their limos in rural areas. That is, unless they're like twits who are "getting green" by buying a "ranch" in some laughed about state so they can take up animal husbandry while their career has taken a nosedive.

I grew up in the country where people, both incredibly bright and not-so-much all KNOW how to take care of themselves and help out a neighbor. Run a fenceline, skin a deer, grow vegetables (not like Madam Thunder-thighs in the WH) and so much more.

For some reason, the nation has a habit of equating rural with stupid but the most idiotic people I've ever met were city-dwellers. Needy, incapable, inept, lacking in world-knowledge, etc. Sure, there had to be some smart people SOMEwhere in the city...but I was hard-pressed to find them.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
An easy solution to this would be to allow timber harvesting on federal lands in a rational way. The current rules are insane.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama lost 80% of rural districts in 2008. The strong suspicion is that he ordered more pain to rural areas in the car dealership closings see:
http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/07/race_played_role_in_obama_car.html

I can testify personally to how hard it is to find a car in rural districts after that politically biased dealership massacre (yes they were quite political despite Heritage's too early done report that the closings were not political). I had a buyer drive 350+ miles each way from northwestern PA to SE PA just to buy a used car from a decent neighborhood. Her area up near Erie was very rural and very impoverished. There were simply NO used cars to be found up there. Note that was just prior to the fracking boom, likely things are better there now.

Car dealerships were often among the biggest employers and they are a key economic powerhouse in a rural area.

Obama has a "hate on" for rural America, that seems clear enough. Stanley Kurtz's books link to his fondness for Urban Planning. Probably has more than a few roots.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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