Several inside 1600 Pennsylvania have tangled with the legendary journalist Bob Woodward. Few emerged unscathed.
The Obama administration is now fighting back against the best-selling author who made his name and reputation in reporting the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. And it’s revealing what they’re not challenging—the miasma of bad faith with Republicans over the budget and the $85 billion in sequestered budget cuts expected to begin on Friday.
Woodward documents in his 2012 book The Price of Politics that team Obama first proposed the idea of the sequester. Expanding on his work in a Sunday Washington Post op-ed, he noted—as he has before—that both President Obama and his would-be Treasury Secretary Jack Lew lied on the campaign trail by saying the sequester originated with House Republicans. The White House has now ceded that fact.
They blasted Woodward, however, for writing that Obama “is moving the goal posts” by requiring that additional revenues be part of a sequester substitute. The sequester was about spending. Failure by a bi-partisan “super committee” to identify alternative reductions in November, 2011 caused the budgetary hacking that Obama now seeks to avoid to be triggered.
White House officials protested the notion of moving the goal posts, since—regardless of the terms of the agreement—revenue increases have always been part of Obama’s negotiating position on budget issues.
But what they’re not crying foul about is Woodward’s far more damning revelation—that the White House underestimated the GOP on the sequester, and the administration’s actions since have created a vacuum of trust.