Less than two weeks ago, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Elmendorf warned the House Budget Committee that the looming March 1 sequester would have a devastating impact on U.S. employment. "We think that would reduce the level of employment at the end of the year," Elmendorf cautioned, "by about 750,000 jobs."
Apparently, Republican House Speaker John Boehner didn't get the memo. Asked by a reporter at his Monday press conference, "Do you have a sense of how many jobs will be lost as a result of the sequester?" Boehner responded, "I do not."
Of course, the answer is no mystery. On February 13, 2013, Director Elmendorf explained the impact of the $85 billion in automatic cuts to non-defense discretionary spending this year:
"The sequester alone will reduce GDP growth this year by 0.6 percentage points, lowering GDP at the end of the year by that 0.6 percent. We think that would reduce the level of employment at the end of the year by about 750,000 jobs."As it turns out, Speaker Boehner need not have left his tanning bed in order to hear Elmendorf's dire forecast. He could have learned the vital answer to the reporter's question Monday just by listening in on the Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's press conference on February 14th.
Together, the Democrats at the podium mentioned the 750,000 figure a total of 11 times. As Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee explained:
"I just ask everybody to keep in mind two numbers. The first number is 750,000. That's the number of jobs that the independent nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says will be lost between March 1st and the end of this calendar year if we allow the reckless across‑the‑board sequester to take place. Seven-hundred and fifty-thousand American jobs lost. It will reduce our economic output for this year by a full third. It equates to erasing the number of jobs gained between October of last year through January of this year, wiping out five months of job growth.As it turns out, this isn't the first time Speaker Boehner casually displayed his ignorance--and nonchalance--about hundreds of thousands of Americans losing their jobs. Asked by a reporter two years ago about the thousands of federal employees whose jobs would be ended as a result of the GOP's demand for $100 billion in spending cuts, Boehner had another three-word answer:
The second number I hope you'll keep in mind is four. Four is the number of times the House Democrats have put forward a plan in this Congress to prevent those across‑the‑board cuts from taking place with the 750,000 jobs lost."
"So be it."