In his interview with ABC News, President Obama claimed that the move to shut down White House tours as part of sequestration cuts “was not a decision that went up to the White House.” Obama appeared to blame the Secret Service for the decision — and ignored the question of whether he would intervene on the public’s behalf to resume tours. From the interview:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve been taking a lot of heat for this cancellation of the White House tours. They get– the Secret Service says it costs about $74,000 a week. Was canceling them really necessary?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, I have to say this was not– a decision that went up to the White House. But what the Secret Service explained to us was that they’re going to have to furlough some folks. What furloughs mean is– is that people lose a day of work and a day of pay.
And, you know, the question for them is, you know, how deeply do they have to furlough their staff and is it worth it to make sure that we’ve got White House tours that means that you got a whole bunch of families who are depending on a paycheck who suddenly are seein’–
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So no reconsideration?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: –a 5% or 10%– reduction in their pay. Well, what I’m asking them is are there ways, for example, for us to accommodate school groups– you know, who may have traveled here with some bake sales. Can we make sure that– kids, potentially, can– can still come to tour?
But– but– I’m always amused when people on the one hand say– the sequester doesn’t mean anything and the administration’s exaggerating its effects; and then whatever the specific effects are, they yell and scream and say, “Why are you doing that?” Well, there are consequences to Congress not having come up with a more sensible way to reduce the deficit. And what I’m proposing is if we do it smart, if we do it sensibly, if we do it in a balanced way that the American support, including, by the way, a majority of Republicans, then we don’t have to– do arbitrary stuff. We can do it in an intelligent way that’s going to improve our economy.