Republican offices are passing around a new column from Washington Post columnist Bob Woodward, in which he reiterates past reporting from his book last summer and blames President Barack Obama and White House chief of staff Jack Lew for the implementation of the sequester.Notably, Woodward also blatantly accuses Lew of being “not accurate” in his testimony to become the next Treasury Secretary when he said that the sequester “was not something that the administration was pushing at that moment.”
In his piece, Woodward asserts that when Obama claims he always wanted new revenues in a deal to avert the sequester instead of just spending cuts, he is “moving the goal posts.”
Here’s Woodward’s key paragraph that House Speaker John Boehner’s office is highlighting (emphasis theirs):
“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… [T]hat was not the deal he made.”
The White House pushed back on that reporting by Woodward. White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer noted on Twitter that Woodward reported in his book, The Price of Politics, that Boehner told Rep. Dave Camp to offer $600 billion in revenue during the debt-ceiling negotiations.
— Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44) February 23, 2013
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.
Both parties appear to be trying to get a leg up on shaping the blame in the event the cuts of the sequester kick in beginning next week. Republicans have used Woodward’s book as an attempt to frame the sequester as Obama’s brainchild.
The White House and Democrats, meanwhile, have rejected that and pointed to public polling that shows a majority of Americans agree with their approach to include revenues in a deal to avert the sequester.
Woodward doesn’t exactly let Republicans off the hook, either.
“A majority of Republicans did vote for the Budget Control Act that summer, which included the sequester,” Woodward wrote. “Key Republican staffers said they didn’t even initially know what a sequester was — because the concept stemmed from the budget wars of the 1980s, when they were not in government.”
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