Sequestration is looming only days away and there is plenty of blame flying around Washington about who is responsible for the forced budget cuts. However, in a Feb. 24 opinion piece in the Washington Post, Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) has cleared up who was responsible for creating the sequester. It was not the Republicans, as President Obama and Jack Lew had previously stated, but the President’s own White House team. Bob Woodward once again has exposed a truth problem.
Bob Woodward wrote a 2012 book entitled, “The Price of Politics” in which he clearly explained that the Obama White House first proposed the idea of sequestration. He reminded the White House of this in his Washington Post piece on Sunday.
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.
The President and Lew promoted a different story about sequestration when on the campaign trail in 2012. Woodward quoted President Obama in the third presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2012, when he said:
“The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed.”
Woodward also recounted that the current Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, budget director when sequester was introduced, also blamed the Republicans two days later, stating that it “was very much rooted in the Republican congressional insistence that there be an automatic measure.”
As is always the case with Bob Woodward, whether you like him or not, he always has his facts meticulously right, down to the most minute detail. He explained in his opinion piece that it was President Obama’s team that created the sequester, but the White House falsely claimed it was the creation of the Republicans.
So, as CNBC described it, Bob Woodward accused President Obama and Jack Lew, currently Secretary of Treasury, of telling lies on the campaign trail. The White House, when faced with the level of detail that always comprises Woodward's statements, ceded the fact.
In two separate instances, they were forced to back away from their claims that Republicans originated the idea of sequester. Jack Lew admitted responsibility in a roundabout way in his confirmation hearings for Secretary of the Treasury.
Then came the official admission of guilt by Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, who made the following statement, reported by Bob Woodward in his piece in the Washington Post:
“The sequester was something that was discussed,” Carney said. Walking back the earlier statements, he added carefully, “and as has been reported, it was an idea that the White House put forward.”
So, Bob Woodward caught the Obama Administration in an untruth, and his reputation for attention to detail and his political clout with both sides were powerful enough to render an admission of guilt from the White House.