Politics

02.28.13

Bob Woodward's So-Called Thinking Sort Of Explained

I never had the slightest idea of what Woodward meant by saying that Obama was "moving the goalposts." The Washington Post's Erik Wemple now helpfully clears that up:

Obama “got what he needed,” says Woodward, referring to the raising of the debt ceiling. “So then the supercommittee failed, the sequester’s there, so now he wants more revenue. He should just get up and say, ‘We’re moving the goal posts, we averted the calamity of 2011, we won the election and I want more revenue.’” The way Woodward appears to see things, the supercommittee negotiations were the place where a deficit reduction was on the table; they broke down in November 2011. That leaves us with the sequester, to Woodward’s thinking, which was negotiated as a package of spending cuts, period.

Okay, that makes sense as an explanation, but it leaves me baffled, quite frankly, about Woodward's grasp of very basic facts. Woodward is supposing that the supercommittee was the only place for discussions about a bargain including revenues. That's crazy. Once the supercommittee failed, the action shifted to the White House and Congress to negotiate. That's all.

I don't remember anyone seriously thinking the supercommittee was going to get the job done. Actually I slightly take that back. There were a few credulous types around. Woodward was probably one. But it was certainly no shocker when it dissolved in acrimony. And when it did, Obama said...guess what? He wanted revenues to be part of any sequester-avoiding deal! This is from a CNN.com article from November 2011, back when the supercommittee collapsed:

"The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion," he told reporters. "That's exactly what they need to do. That's the job they promised to do. And they've still got a year to figure it out."

He didn't use the word "revenues" there, but he did say balanced plan to reduce the deficit, which means a plan that includes revenues.

So in other words, Obama said in November 2011 exactly what he said for the next year, and exactly what he is saying today! Those goal posts are now looking more and more stationary, aren't they?

The notion that the supercommittee was the only place where revenues could be discussed is so wrong that it really makes me wonder how intelligent Bob Woodward is. It was understood in November 2011 that Congress still had 13 months to come up with something until the January 2013 deadline. And Obama has wanted revenues that entire time. Sheesh.