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White House warns budget cuts will affect Oklahoma teachers, students, senior citizens

In latest turn of the public relations battle, the White House releases new state figures estimating impacts of spending cuts, but Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn says the crisis is “created” and that not cutting spending would be worse.
by Chris Casteel Published: February 25, 2013

The White House continued Sunday to wage a public relations battle over federal spending cuts set to be triggered Friday, warning that Oklahoma could lose millions of dollars in grants, teachers could lose their jobs and low-income and disabled students could lose access to classes.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, said the crisis over the cuts had been “made up” and that there were “hundreds of billions of dollars of fat and waste and excess in the federal government.”

President Barack Obama has been pressing lawmakers to wipe out $1.2 trillion in planned spending cuts and replace them with a package of tax hikes and more targeted cuts.

The across-the-board cuts will be spread out over 10 years and primarily hit the Defense Department and domestic programs ranging from education to air traffic control.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta notified about 800,000 civilian employees last week, including about 24,000 in Oklahoma, that they might have to be furloughed.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said air traffic, particularly at the nation's busiest airports, would be delayed if the cuts force furloughs of his workers.

Republicans are strongly opposed to raising taxes, and lawmakers from both parties have said in recent days that they expect the cuts, known as the sequester, to go into effect Saturday.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Coburn said the cuts would be triggered but would be less than the $85 billion over seven months — March through September — cited by the administration.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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