Skip to comments.Bob Woodward: Why is Obama still misleading everyone on the sequester?
Posted on 02/23/2013 11:40:10 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Success may have a thousand fathers, and failure be an orphan, but don’t doubt the parentage of the sequester. After yet another week of White House denials of paternity and a new layer of hysteria over the nature of the cuts involved, Bob Woodward reminds us again who came up with the plan in the first place. As he reported in his book The Price of Politics more than a year ago from on-the-record interviews with the players involved, the sequester was proposed by then-Chief of Staff Jack Lew and personally approved by President Barack Obama, before Harry Reid presented it to Republicans as a take-it-or-leave-it option to end the summer 2011 budget standoff:
My extensive reporting for my book The Price of Politics shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors probably the foremost experts on budget issues in the senior ranks of the federal government.
Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved.
Nabors has told others that they checked with the president before going to see Reid. A mandatory sequester was the only action-forcing mechanism they could devise. Nabors has said, We didnt actually think it would be that hard to convince them Reid and the Republicans to adopt the sequester. It really was the only thing we had. There was not a lot of other options left on the table.
A majority of Republicans did vote for the Budget Control Act that summer, which included the sequester. Key Republican staffers said they didnt even initially know what a sequester was because the concept stemmed from the budget wars of the 1980s, when they were not in government.
Why lie about this? Woodward explains that shifting blame is a necessary part of moving the goal posts the actual issue at hand in August 2011. By that point, the real problem for Obama was the debt ceiling, and the sequester put off the question of both spending cuts and tax increases. Republicans had agreed at that point to a deal that included a 1:1 ratio of new revenues (through tax reform rather than rate increases) and spending cuts, but then Obama came back and wanted more revenues, which scotched the deal. With the debt ceiling approaching a crisis point, both goals got pushed aside in exchange for a punt and the sequester as a lever to force a decision down the road:
Lew testified during his confirmation hearing that the Republicans would not go along with new revenue in the portion of the deficit-reduction plan that became the sequester. Reinforcing Lews point, a senior White House official said Friday, The sequester was an option we were forced to take because the Republicans would not do tax increases.
In fact, the final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nations debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection.
So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made.
Besides, Republicans already compromised on the revenue side in January. Now it’s time to work on the spending cuts, but Obama clearly doesn’t want to cut anything from the budget. The nature of the cuts in the sequester and the disconnect from White House hysteria on them is so sharp as to dispel any doubt on that point. Bill Wilson at Forbes calls the sequester cuts “non-existent”:
According to Obama, the sequester would represent a huge blow to middle-class families and our economy as a whole. Obamas White House has also referred to the sequester as devastating, saying its cuts would imperil our economy, our national security (and) vital programs that middle class families depend on.
Sounds frightening but is it true? Of course not. According to The Wall Street Journal federal domestic discretionary spending soared by 84 percent with some agencies doubling and tripling their budgets during Barack Obamas first two years in office. In fact the sequester would scale back just one of every six dollars in discretionary spending increases since 2008 hardly a huge blow. Also, discretionary spending in 2008 was already tremendously inflated having increased by more than 60 percent over the previous eight years.
In other words this isnt even really a cut devastating or otherwise its a modest growth rate reduction following years of unnecessary, embarrassing and unsustainable excesses.
Wilson notes that Obama doesn’t have a monopoly on hypocrisy:
U.S. Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly referenced the presidents sequester while decrying its harmful cuts.
What hypocrisy. Obama and Boehner both supported the sequester as an excuse for yet another unsustainable run-up of our nations credit limit which exhausted its latest $2.1 trillion increase last December (after less than seventeen months).
The debt ceiling deal in 2011 was agreed to by Republicans and Democrats, and regardless of who came up with the sequester, they all voted for it, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) said recently. So, you cant vote for something and, with a straight face, go blame the other guy for its existence in law.
As Bob Corker put it last week, the sequester amounts to $1.2 trillion in reductions in the trajectory of spending growth over the next ten years, in which we project to spend $45 trillion. It amounts to a 2.7% decrease in overall spending over the decade, hardly Draconian or savage or whatever hyperventilated appellation one chooses to use. If we can’t agree to cut even that much, there is no hope for a broader budget reform that brings us back to balanced budgets in the future, and there aren’t enough taxes in the country to make up the difference from the other direction without killing the economy and wiping out revenue altogether.
Update: Via Andrew Malcolm, Obama’s still misleading everyone on the sequester:
Hi, everybody. Our top priority as a country right now should be doing everything we can to grow our economy and create good, middle class jobs.
And yet, less than one week from now, Congress is poised to allow a series of arbitrary, automatic budget cuts that will do the exact opposite. They will slow our economy. They will eliminate good jobs. They will leave many families who are already stretched to the limit scrambling to figure out what to do.
But here’s the thing: these cuts don’t have to happen. Congress can turn them off anytime with just a little compromise. They can pass a balanced plan for deficit reduction. They can cut spending in a smart way, and close wasteful tax loopholes for the well-off and well-connected.
Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of compromising — instead of asking anything of the wealthiest Americans — they would rather let these cuts fall squarely on the middle class.
You know what might help? Having the Senate — controlled by Obama’s Democrats — pass an alternative. Have they done that yet? When that happens, be sure to let us know, Mr. President.
Berny Madoff chuckles,he knows the game.
Oh, he knows better. He's counting on the low-information voters to not know...and he's been surfing on that ignorance for years. It's not going to get better for a while.
“Why is Obama still misleading everyone on the sequester?”
Because he can and there’s no one with balls to stop him!
This is not quite true.
I mean, they supported in in the end but Both Boehner and McConnell's idea was a denial of the debt ceiling hike if the super committee couldn't agree on a bill.
Bob Woodward: Why is Obama still misleading everyone on the sequester?
Talk about dumb?.. Bob seems to have missed literally everything Obama says is bull squeeze..
But he pulls sequester of “some hat”.. as if Obama “missed one”.. a faux pas.. and does not ALWAYS lie..
Bob sees what Bob wants to see.. that must be his problem...
AND he don’t see what he don’t want to see..
Bob is quite BLIND...
Finally, and thank you, a voice of reason!
The conservatives in this country are totally intimidated by an overwhelming left wing MSM and the never ending Drama from Obama.
Bob Woodward: Why is Obama still misleading everyone on the sequester?
Because of balless Republicans and sychophants in the MSM, Bob. He has nothing to worry about.
If you have to ask that question you're not paying attention or you don't really want the answer.
"Sequestration" is the perfect hammer to demagogue Republicans with and demagoguing is 0bama's specialty.
>> Is that a fancy word for “lying?”
Some call it “campaigning.”
I didn’t know Woodward was a Republican?
Don’t count on this guy knowing better about anything.
No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
My extensive reporting for my book The Price of Politics shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors -- probably the foremost experts on budget issues in the senior ranks of the federal government. Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011... It really was the only thing we had. There was not a lot of other options left on the table. A majority of Republicans did vote for the Budget Control Act that summer, which included the sequester. Key Republican staffers said they didnt even initially know what a sequester was -- because the concept stemmed from the budget wars of the 1980s, when they were not in government.The sequester is a way to screw the US, screw the taxpayer, screw the military, screw the Constitution, and screw the Republican Party -- via the ever-willing Partisan Media Shills. Woodward (and Ed Morrissey who cites this here) are doing a great job, but few will listen.
The above shows that the design of the sequester bill is preventing targeted cuts which Cantor says could solve all the problems. Truth is zero does not want targeted cuts and probably has never had a question on such. He can't demagogue us or the sequester if the cuts were targeted.
Bottom line hes campaigning again,this time not running for election just running against us, and its all political.
Never have we had such a loser potus.
Brilliant post and you are 100% correct.
Zero couldn't run a govt. if he had to! That's val/jar's job. He's a puppet monkey with the bent axel pulling his political strings. The guy will never stop campaigning because that's all he was ever brainwashed to do.
IMHO, no one on his side ever thought he would win re-election. So that's why he still campaigns. Its all he was taught.
Here is what is going on, The leftist know that 80 Billion is nothing. But if they can get the Republicans to cave on ONLY 80 Billion then NO spending cuts are ever, can ever, going to happen. O’bastard and Co. are going in for the kill. Their fear is if the 80 Billion cuts happen and there is little or no pain(which we all know there won’t be) they will look like the lying fools that they are. O’bastard is playing a high stakes game of poker and placed a big bet.
It's basically more of the same.
axel has us boxed into a corner politically on issue after issue and we never seem to get out of the box.
This might help.
The fable of the Scorpion and the Frog...
A pox on both their houses.
We need a peaceful revolution where all of these idiots are driven from office.