Bob Woodward, associate editor of the Washington Post wrote a revealing article for the Post blaming Obama for the sequester. Be still my beating heart!
Who is responsible? What really happened? According to Woodward, the finger-pointing began during the third presidential debate last fall, on Oct. 22, when Obama blamed Congress. “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed,” Obama said. “It is something that Congress has proposed.”
The White House chief of staff at the time, Jack Lew, who had been budget director during the negotiations that set up the sequester in 2011, backed up the president two days later. ” There was an insistence on the part of Republicans in Congress for there to be some automatic trigger,” Lew said while campaigning in Florida. It “was very much rooted in the Republican congressional insistence that there be an automatic measure.”
The president and Lew had this wrong. 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. A mandatory sequester was the only action-forcing mechanism they could devise. Nabors has said, “We didn’t 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.”
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 nation’s 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.
Now we learn from Business Insider that The White House is slightly pissed that one of the lap-dog media would actually out him and, in an attempt to silence Woodward, White House communications director director Dan Pfeiffer quickly struck back on Twitter to proclaim Woodward a liar – “Boehner told Rep. Dave Camp to offer $600 billion in revenue during the debt-ceiling negotiations. And in announcing the deal to raise the debt ceiling on July 31, 2011, Obama did say that new revenues would be necessary to avert the sequester.”
Woodward upped the anti by saying that Obama is showing a “kind of madness I haven’t seen in a long time” for a decision not to deploy the U.S.S. Harry Truman to the Persian Gulf, citing budget concerns relating to the budget cuts of sequester. “Under the Constitution, the President is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the President going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement saying ‘I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country.'”
Woodward says that he has been warn by the White House that he would regret his factual report. The White House aide who Woodward said threatened him was Gene Sperling, the director of the White House Economic Council, BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith reported
In an interview with Politico Woodward said he “called a senior White House official last week to tell him that in a piece in that weekend’s Washington Post, he was going to question President Barack Obama’s account of how sequestration came about – and got a major-league brushback. The Obama aide “yelled at me for about a half hour,” Woodward told us in an hour-long interview yesterday around the Georgetown dining room table where so many generations of Washington’s powerful have spilled their secrets.
Digging into one of his famous folders, Woodward said the tirade was followed by a page-long email from the aide, one of the four or five administration officials most closely involved in the fiscal negotiations with the Hill. “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today,” the official typed. “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”
The left media attack dog mob, taking its cues from the White House, is after Woodward like a dog on a bone. The KailyKos is calling Woodward an aging press diva. Messaging erupted from more Obama lefties at BuzzFeed, Slate, the Daily Beast and even some reporters from Politico fostering the White House claim that Woodward is a crazy old coot.
After all, the left can’t possibly allow anyone to call the “messiah” out on his lies and half truths.