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White House Is Taking the Fight to Avoid Sequester Beyond the Beltway

The White House is aiming its latest warnings about the dire consequences of deep across-the-board spending cuts at an audience beyond the Beltway, issuing a new report Sunday that breaks down the effects on every state.

Ahead of a black-tie dinner that President Barack Obama is hosting for the country’s governors, the administration released details on how each state would be hurt by $85 billion in spending reductions slated to kick in at the end of the week. The White House has been ratcheting up the political pressure on congressional Republicans to work toward a budget deal that would replace the sequester.

“This will have serious programmatic consequences for all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” Jason Furman, principal deputy director of the National Economic Council, said in a conference call to unveil the study.

Furman cited a few specific cases of anticipated cutbacks, citing examples from Ohio and Kentucky — home states of the top Republicans in the House and Senate. He pointed to several areas, including education, national defense and public health, that the administration says would suffer from the budget cuts.

In Ohio, a loss of $25.1 million in funding for primary and secondary education would put about 350 teacher and aide jobs at risk, according to the report. Roughly 34,000 fewer students would be served and 100 fewer schools would receive funding.

“When you look at other services, in Kentucky ... 400 fewer victims of domestic violence could end up being served as a result of the funding cuts under the sequester,” Furman said.

Military readiness centered in Virginia would get hit, with about 90,000 civilian Defense Department employees set to be furloughed. The Navy would be forced to cancel the maintenance of 11 ships based in the Norfolk area, the report said. Obama is scheduled to travel to Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia on Tuesday to outline the consequences there.

Administration officials also directed their message toward areas in the Northeast that were devastated last fall by Hurricane Sandy.

“What you will see is a systematic reduction in all of the activities for Sandy relief that were funded,” Office of Management and Budget Controller Danny Werfel said. “The $3 billion reduction will be spread across a variety of program areas, and depending on when that money was intended to pay out ... those funds will be cut. It’s not a question of clawback because we’re in the process of initiating the Sandy relief activities, so it’s less money going to Sandy relief efforts than was intended by Congress.”

With lawmakers unlikely to reach an agreement before the cuts begin to take effect on March 1, senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer sought to lay the blame on Republicans.

“With a little bit of compromise and common sense, this could be resolved,” Pfeiffer said. “The Republicans are making a policy choice that these cuts are better than eliminating loopholes that benefit the wealthy.”

For their part, Republicans accused Obama of playing politics instead of trying to head off the sequester.

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