Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
During the Watergate era, I considered Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein heroes and the venerable Washington Post excellence in journalism. That was then, this is now.
The Washington Post long ago lost its status for excellence in journalism. It is now welfare employment for Neocon war mongers and conservative pundits. The Post has partnered with billionaire Pete Peterson who is singularly dedicated to the destruction of Soclal Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The Washington Post Lets Pete Peterson Write The News On The Deficit. As I have said before, everything published by the Washington Post should come with a disclaimer disclosing this parternership — but it does not.
The sad decline of the Washington Post has occurred during a period of time when Bob Woodward has been an editor. Bob Woodward lost his soul as a journalist as well. Having access to insiders and their confidences became more important to him than reporting corruption in government.
Woodward was present when Bush and Cheney schemed to lead this country into an unnecessary war based upon fabricated evidence in Iraq, but rather than expose this war crime, it was more important to Woodward to maintain his access and confidences so that he could personally profit from the book he was writing, Plan of Attack. Had Woodward exposed the crimes to which he was privy, thousands of lives lost could have been saved. He has much to answer for.
Today, Bob Woodward looks at the sequester and the GOP talking point of the week, Woodward: Obama's sequester deal-changer:
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[.] [Still hawking his books and insider access and confidences.]
The problem here is that Woodward starts at the end of the story — President Obama's payment of extortionary ransom to the GOP — rather than at the beginning of the story with the extortionary demands from these economic terrorists: "give us everything we want or we will blow up the economy and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States." And what is it the GOP always wants? Cutting government spending "to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub," as their lord and master Grover Norquist commands them.
Rather than blame the economic terrorists holding America hostage and extorting a ransom of draconian spending cuts from the President, Woodward blames the President for paying the GOP the ransom they demanded. This is blaming the hostage and acquiting the hostage taker. Woodward concedes that 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.”
Woodward harrumphs, parsing words in a way that has become his trademark, "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."
Well big effin' deal, Bob. The whole point of the sequester — so we were informed by the Washington Post and others — was that the sequester was designed to be so onerous, so dangerous that neither side would be crazy enough to actually do it. In fact, the media villagers argued at the time that President Obama had given nothing away in exchange for raising the federal debt ceiling. Remember that, Bob? I believed at the time, and it is now abundantly clear, that the GOP really is that crazy and got exactly the ransom they wanted. (The Weeper of the House, John Boehner, with a self-satisfied grin said at the time "I got 98% of everything I wanted.")
Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo adds some excellent analysis of the sad decline of Bob Woodward. Woodward Misses The Mark:
Woodward’s book about the debt limit crisis includes the fairly inconsequential detail that the idea of using sequestration (as opposed to other policy options) as an enforcement mechanism originated in the White House. Republicans, who voted for the Budget Control Act in overwhelming numbers, argue flimsily that this detail absolves them of all blame for the coming spending cuts, and have since tried to turn Woodward into a sort of grand arbiter of the debt limit fight.
But in this case Woodward is just dead wrong. Obama and Democrats have always insisted that a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher taxes replace sequestration. It’s true that John Boehner wouldn’t agree to include new taxes in the enforcement mechanism itself, and thus that the enforcement mechanism he and Obama settled upon — sequestration — is composed exclusively of spending cuts. But the entire purpose of an enforcement mechanism is to make sure that the enforcement mechanism is never triggered. The key question is what action it was designed to compel. And on that score, the Budget Control Act is unambiguous.
First: “Unless a joint committee bill achieving an amount greater than $1,200,000,000,000 in deficit reduction as provided in section 401(b)(3)(B)(i)(II) of the Budget Control Act of 2011 is enacted by January 15, 2012, the discretionary spending limits listed in section 251(c) shall be revised, and discretionary appropriations and direct spending shall be reduced.”
Key words: “deficit reduction.” Not “spending cuts.” If Republicans wanted to make sure sequestration would be replaced with spending cuts only, that would have been the place to make a stand. Some of them certainly tried. But that’s not what ultimately won the day. Instead the, law tasked the Super Committee with replacing sequestration with a different deficit reduction bill — tax increases or no.
“The goal of the joint committee shall be to reduce the deficit by at least $1,500,000,000,000 over the period of fiscal years 2012 to 2021,” according to the BCA. The bill even provided the House and Senate instructions for advancing a Super Committee bill if it included revenue. This couldn’t be clearer. In the Super Committee’s waning hours, Republicans tried to entice Democrats into a spending-cut heavy agreement by acceding to a small amount of revenue. Democrats balked — the balance was off — but all of that just goes to show that a tax increase has always been a likely element of a replacement bill, and Republicans know it.
Woodward just biffed this one.
Perhaps Woodward is spending too much time with the Washington Post's partner, Pete Peterson, and his "austerity twins" at Fix The Debt, Bowles and Simpson. Maybe it's time for Bob Woodward to retire and to enjoy the money he has earned from all his "insider" books.
*UPDATE: Ezra Klein takes eception with his editor and gets it right. On the sequester, the American people ‘moved the goalposts’ | Wonkblog:
I don’t agree with my colleague Bob Woodward, who says the Obama administration is “moving the goalposts” when they insist on a sequester replacement that includes revenues. I remember talking to both members of the Obama administration and the Republican leadership in 2011, and everyone was perfectly clear that Democrats were going to pursue tax increases in any sequester replacement, and Republicans were going to oppose tax increases in any sequester replacement. What no one knew was who would win.
“Moving the goal posts” isn’t a concept that actually makes any sense in the context of replacing the sequester. The whole point of the policy was to buy time until someone, somehow, moved the goalposts such that the sequester could be replaced.
* * *
There were two candidates to drive that change. The first and least likely was the supercommittee. If they came to a deal that both sides accepted, they could replace the sequester. They failed.
The second was the 2012 election. If Republicans won, then that would pretty much settle it: No tax increases. If President Obama won, then that, too, would pretty much settle it: The American people would’ve voted for the guy who wants to cut the deficit by increasing taxes.
The American people voted for the guy who wants to cut the deficit by increasing taxes.
In fact, they went even further than that. They also voted for a Senate that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes. And then they voted for a House that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes, though due to the quirks of congressional districts, they didn’t get one.
Here in DC, we can get a bit buried in Beltway minutia. The ongoing blame game over who concocted the sequester is an excellent example. But it’s worth remembering that the goalposts in American politics aren’t set in backroom deals between politicians. They’re set in elections. And in the 2012 election, the American people were very clear on where they wanted the goalposts moved to.