Accuracy in Media

Barack ObamaThe Washington Post Fact Checker gave President Obama four Pinocchios for falsely claiming that Captiol Hill janitors will receive a pay cut due to sequestration, in an attempt to blame Republicans for the spending cuts that took effect at the beginning of the month.

Starting tomorrow, everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol—now that Congress has left, somebody is going to be vacuuming and cleaning those floors and throwing out the garbage—they’re going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they’ve got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real.

Except that it isn’t real.

According to a memo from Carlos Elias, Superintendent of the Capitol Building/Capitol Visitors Center, pay and benefits will not be impacted by sequestration.

That didn’t stop other members of the administration from doubling down on the President’s false statement.

First was Gene Sperling, director of the White House economic council who said the following last Sunday on ABC News’ This Week:

You know, those Capitol janitors will not get as much overtime. I’m sure they think less pay, that they’re taking home, does hurt.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who on Monday also repeated the false overtime claim, followed that:

On the issue of the janitors, if you work for an hourly wage and you earn overtime, and you depend on that overtime to make ends meet, it is simply a fact that a reduction in overtime is a reduction in your pay.

The Fact Checker discovered, though, that the cleaning crew averaged $304 of overtime pay in fiscal year 2012 and have already accumulated an average of $388 so far this year. So even if it were true that sequestration was going to cut their future overtime, they already earned more in the first six months of this fiscal year than they did all of last year. At less than $6 a week it isn’t likely that the cleaning crew is relying on overtime to make ends meet, as the White House claims.

Bret H. Swanson, assistant sergeant at arms for operations and the manager of cleaning technicians, told the Fact Checker that the night janitors earn an average of $51,644 a year and the day janitors earn an average of $49,481, meaning that overtime accounted for less than six-tenths of one percent for the day crew.

But lying about the effects of sequestration by creating imaginary victims, so that he can blame the Republicans for the problems he created, is just par for the course for the most arrogant President in American history.

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