Thursday, February 28, 2013

Digby catches Bob Woodward revealing news, despite himself

Bob Woodward is in the news today because he's playing the drama queen over an e-mail he got from White House economic adviser Gene Sperling. But Digby notices something important in this Politico report, Exclusive: The Woodward, Sperling emails revealed by Mike Allen and Jim Vadehei 02/28/2013. Sperling wrote to Woodward:

The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)
Digby noticed that there was actually something more newsworthy here than Bob Woodward's silly whining. As she writes in Cutting entitlements is "in the DNA" of the sequester Hullabaloo 02/28/2013:

I don't know that anyone's ever admitted that in public before or that the president was completely, shall we say, honest when he ran for his second term about that specific definition of "a balanced approach". I haven't heard anyone say publicly that the sequester "deal" as far as the White House was concerned was to cut "entitlements" in exchange for new revenues. I wonder how many members of congress were aware of this "deal" when they voted for the sequester? The public certainly wasn't.

I wish I could understand why it is so important to Barack Obama to cut these vital programs before he leaves office. It seems to be his obsession. But there you have it.
Digby has been following Obama's Grand Obsession for the Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid since his election as President in 2008. It's a persistent theme for him and there's no reason at this point to think that it won't be a four-year fight in his second term to prevent cuts in benefits to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Bill Black writes in Why Obama Refuses to Kill the Sequester Bezinga 02/25/2013:

Similarly, President Obama has revealed his real preferences in the current blame game by not calling for a clean bill eliminating the Sequester. It is striking that as far as I know (1) neither Obama nor any administration official has called for the elimination of the Sequester and (2) we have a fairly silly blame game about how the Sequester was created without discussing the implications of Obama's continuing failure to call for the elimination of the Sequester despite his knowledge that it is highly self-destructive.

The only logical inference that can be drawn is that Obama remains committed to inflicting the "Grand Bargain" (really, the Grand Betrayal) on the Nation in his quest for a "legacy" and continues to believe that the Sequester provides him the essential leverage he feels he needs to coerce Senate progressives to adopt austerity, make deep cuts in vital social programs, and to begin to unravel the safety net. Obama’s newest budget offer includes cuts to the safety net and provides that 2/3 of the austerity inflicted would consist of spending cuts instead of tax increases. When that package is one’s starting position the end result of any deal will be far worse. [my emphasis]
Sperling's e-mail to Woodward is documentation that Black's suspicion on the Grand Bargain/Grand Betrayal are well-founded.

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