Journalist Bob Woodward, who recently published a book about President Obama’s debt-ceiling negotiations with Congress in summer 2011, said Mr. Obama was “not correct” in his assertion during Monday night’s debate that the idea for across-the-board spending cuts that are set to begin next year, also known as “sequestration” originated on Capitol Hill, not the White House.
“What the president said is not correct,” Mr. Woodward said, according to Politico. “He’s mistaken. And it’s refuted by the people who work for him.”
Mr. Woodward reports in his book, “The Price of Politics,” that Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors and White House Office of Management Director Jack Lew took the “sequestration” proposal to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, and it was then presented to Republicans in Congress.
During Monday’s debate, Mr. Obama said that the sequester is not something that he proposed, “it is something that Congress proposed,” adding that “it will not happen.”
Press secretary Jay Carney, briefing reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, continued with the administration’s line, however.
“What the president said … was a reiteration of what his position has long been,” Carney said. “The sequester that was designed and passed by Congress was never meant to become policy, it was never meant to be implemented.”
Indeed, the $1.2 trillion in cuts, to come equally from defense and domestic spending, was never actually intended to go into effect. The proposed cuts were meant to be so unpalatable to both Democrats and Republicans that they would force a congressional “supercommittee” to find an alternative. But the bipartisan panel failed, and so, absent action from Congress, the cuts will start to take effect early next year.
“It’s a complicated process — and in fairness to the president — maybe he didn’t know that they were doing this because it’s kind of technical budget jargon,” Mr. Woodward added. “What I wrote — it’s specific date, time, place, participants. What I’ve reported is totally accurate. Call Nabors and Lew. Or ask the White House. I mean, they know that’s accurate.”