As reported earlier, the sequestration has led to the cancellation of White House tours, according to a letter from the White House's visitors office obtained by Talking Points Memo, that expressed "regret" for these cancellations, "during the popular Spring touring season," explaining that "staffing reductions resulting from sequestration" forced the issue.
As Evan McMorris-Santoro noted, "Requests for White House tours are generally submitted through the requester's Member of Congress." And sure enough, there were lots of Republican members of Congress who greeted the news that they'd be unable to offer their
constituents cronies a tour of the White House with plaintive cries that were all recorded for posterity on the Twitter feed of Fox News congressional correspondent Chad Pergram.
Who knew that there were so many White House tour super-fans in the House GOP caucus?
Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) was upset that a special group was going to be excluded:
Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) on WH suspending WH tours: The poeple have been banned from the people's house.
I'm not sure there's a good case to be made that "poeple" belong there anyway, but I'm open to the argument. Meanwhile, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) complained that the move was "childish:"
Rep Kevin Cramer (R-ND) on cancelling WH tours: It seems petty to me..It lacks seriousness..it's politically motivated..it seems childish.
Well, actually, the decision to pull the plug on the tours "was based on staffing decisions the Secret Service has been forced to make," and will help keep people employed. As NBC News reported:
The reason for the cancellations, an official with the Secret Service told NBC News, is because the Uniformed Division Officers normally tasked with securing the tours will be reassigned to other security posts at the White House. The move will reduce overtime costs and may reduce the number of furloughs the Secret Service could potentially face, according to the official.
So, it would seem that this decision passed the "seriousness" test. Cramer, to his credit, later found some perspective:
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND): I don't think they're going to close the White House to the public forever.
Yeah, you know, probably not, I'm guessing? Elsewhere, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) used the occasion that he does not understand how government, football, bond levies, or metaphors work:
Rep Mike Simpson (R-ID) on cancelling WH tours: It's like saying if you don't approve this bond levy, we're going to eliminate football.
That one just sort of got away from him. Simpson's on safer ground with well-worn talking points, suggesting that the cancellation of the tours was part as an overall plan to unnecessarily magnify the pain of the sequestration:
Rep Mike Simpson (R-ID) on WH cancelling tours: I think the administration is trying to make (the sequester) as ugly as possible.
Rep Mike Simpson on WH tours: This is to put as much pressure on Republican members. And it's not going to happen.
Yeah, I'm going to go with "no" on that one. The pain of cancelling the White House tours is going to felt by a statistically negligible portion of the population, who will simply have to make do with any of the many thousands of other things to do in Washington in the meantime. On the other hand, the real pain of the sequestration is more likely going to come in the form of the 750,000 jobs that the Congressional Budget Office projects will be lost by year's end, if no deal is made. (And there are offers on the table!)
Then again, it's very likely that losing the ability to send their pals on tours of the White House will, ultimately, weigh more heavily on the minds of these lawmakers than the unemployment.
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