WASHINGTON — Gov. Bobby Jindal barely had time to finish dessert in the State Dining Room before he came to cameras on the North Drive of the White House to accuse his lunch host of fear-mongering about impending spending cuts.
“He’s trying to scare the American people. He’s trying to distort the impact,” Jindal said. “The president needs to stop campaigning. Stop trying to scare the American people.”
The Louisiana Republican delivered his criticism of President Obama just steps away from the Oval Office following a lunch hosted by the president for governors of all 50 states. He used the opportunity to talk about the looming across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on Friday.
“To me that’s a lack of leadership — for him to send out his cabinet secretaries to warn about all kinds of devastating consequences when we’re talking about a federal budget that will still be larger than last year’s budget,” Jindal said.
While Jindal was speaking, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was about 50 feet away talking to reporters in the White House briefing room — warning that the spending cuts could make America less secure.
“I’m not here to scare people,” Napolitano said when asked about Jindal’s comments. “If people are scared, it’s because the full impact of this is finally being made evident. And so people now are saying, oh my gosh, what do I need to do?”
Napolitano said the cut — which she said would force her to trim the Homeland Security budget by about 5 percent — would force dramatic cuts across the department, including reductions in the number of border security and TSA agents.
In advance of the president’s meeting with the governors, the White House prepared a state-by-state list of how the spending cuts will have a negative impact on education, health and security.
The list of things to happen to Louisiana includes some very specific numbers: approximately 1,730 fewer children receiving vaccines, 400 fewer victims of domestic violence receiving help, 1,400 children thrown out of Head Start and Early Start, and 600 disadvantaged children losing access to child care.
“There’s no reason to be threatening people’s access to vaccines or health care services. What’s next? Is he going to threaten to open the federal prisons? This ridiculous. This is just a political campaign and he needs to stop the campaigning,” Jindal told ABC News. “The president needs to show leadership and tell Congress how he can cut $85 billion without cutting these critical services.”