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Oklahoma Republican questions White House hiring

The Beltway theatrics that some say led to widespread, trumped-up fear over the sequestration hasn’t stopped the federal government from posting more than 600 job openings.

On the first business day following the cuts, there were 606 new federal jobs posted on usajobs.com and other outlets related to open opportunities. They included hiring notices for historians, painters and social media specialists with salaries ranging from $40,000 to $165,300.

In a letter dated March 5 to acting director Jeffrey Zients of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Sen. Tom Coburn calls out the Obama administration on the scare tactics used to sway public opinion against the series of spending cuts set in motion Friday.

“A bleak picture has been painted of the effect of sequestration on the daily lives of taxpayers,” Coburn wrote. “According to these dire predictions, the public is being subjected to longer security lines, unsafe food and a plethora of other perils due to this 2.3 percent cut to federal spending, even though the government will still spend more money this year than last.”

According to the OMB, the average annual salary for a government employee is around $76,000. That means the average new hire equates to a one week furlough for 52 current government employees.

This is the seventh letter the Republican from Oklahoma has sent to the administration in response to the sequester cuts, and the second one to the OMB related to hiring.  In his first letter to the OMB, Coburn highlighted more than 1,362 duplicative programs accounting for $364.5 billion in federal spending every year as identified by the Government Accountability Office.

Coburn sent a letter dated March 4 to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack calling on the agency to cancel attendance at two upcoming conferences in California and Oregon set to feature “guest chefs” and “exceptional wines” for tasting.

Calls to the OMB for comment were not immediately returned.