Jon Jarvis Replies to House GOP Criticism
Facing withering criticism from House Republicans, the director of the National Park Service Tuesday rejected suggestions the agency purposely hyped the negative impact of mandatory spending reductions for political gain, The Associated Press reported.
Automatic cuts to the agency, said Park Service chief Jon Jarvis, are “painful by definition. We have worked to try and minimize that pain, but I will tell you that that we have not instructed anyone to intentionally make this painful to the public.”
Republicans were skeptical, pointing out that an official in Jarvis’ own budget office last week told the House oversight committee staff that 99% of park visitors won’t even notice the effects of the budget reductions, known as sequestration.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., questioned whether the Park Service was using the “Washington Monument syndrome”– the public relations technique of highlighting visible and popular places and services that are about to closed or scaled back. Meadows said that permanent signs have gone up at a park in his district that say operations are closing due to the budget cuts.
“Why would you say that would happen if indeed we were not trying to make a political statement?” Meadows asked Jarvis.
The back-and-forth is part of a broader struggle to pin blame for policymaking on the other party, a familiar Washington exercise that has inspired deep public resentment of Congress. In this case, it’s about the consequences of gridlock: sequestration, or automatic spending cuts, that began taking effect March 1. No one knows the full impact of the cuts in political terms because many of the reductions have yet to take effect. So lawmakers and President Barack Obama’s administration are bickering over which Americans will feel the pinch, how acutely and who’s at fault.
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