The White House moved to prevent defense and other government contractors from issuing mass layoff notices in anticipation of sequestration, even going so far to say that the contracting agencies would cover any potential litigation costs or employee compensation costs that could follow.
As Ed Morrissey described it at Hot Air:
In other words, taxpayers will cover the costs of these layoffs through more spending, even though the point of sequestration was to force cuts in government spending. Instead of paying contractors — mainly defense workers — to work, we’ll start paying them not to work. And why? Because the White House doesn’t want massive numbers of layoff notices coming in the last few days ahead of the election.
For those who are unfamiliar with this issue, the Budget Control Act’s hits to defense spending are going to cause a significant number of layoffs for defense contractors. By law, these contractors must let employees know 60 days in advance if they are being laid off. Sixty days prior to January 1, 2013 is early November. And as Ed noted, this could be problematic for the Administration; the election is only a few days later and the final pre-election unemployment report comes out the Friday before the election, after all.
Unfortunately, the President is not the only one play political games with these layoffs. From the close of the National Journal article:
Democrats, including House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, have also said there is no reason to needlessly alarm hundreds of thousands of workers—but many Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have said that they hoped constituent concern resulting from the notices would spur compromise on Capitol Hill.
In other words, Democrats want us to trust Congress to come up with a better solution (‘cause that worked so well for the American people with the Super Committee), and Senator Graham is hoping the threat of higher unemployment will cause both parties to work together. The responsible nature of these elected officials is underwhelming.
In the end, the Administration’s actions are clearly about re-election and nothing else. Considering that taxpayer dollars are not supposed to be used for campaign efforts, perhaps Congress should open an investigation into this. It wouldn’t be the first time the White House used official resources for campaign-related work, after all.