Senate Democrats say they want a "balanced" approach to deficit reduction. Here's their idea of how to achieve that, as expressed in actual legislation:
White House-backed legislation in the Senate to replace $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts would raise the deficit through the end of the budget year by tens of billions of dollars, officials said late Wednesday as the two parties maneuvered for public support on economic issues. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that under the Democratic measure, deficits also would rise in each of the next two years before turning downward. Democratic officials had said earlier in the day their bill would spread one year's worth of anticipated savings — $85 billion — over a decade in an attempt to avoid damaging the shaky economic recovery. The legislation would cancel across-the-board cuts due to begin on Friday. Instead, it would eliminate payments to some farmers, enact defense reductions beginning in two years and impose tax increases, mostly on millionaires. White House spokesman Jay Carney recently told reporters at the White House the administration supports the measure.
Too perfect. Their "deficit reduction" plan entails defense cuts, new tax hikes, and adding to the deficit. No wonder these guys have avoided committing a budget to paper for the last four years. Their mindless slogans do not, and cannot, comport with reality. Note that last line, too: "The White House...supports the measure." Of course they do. Hey, it's a plan that isn't the Republican one. The president's specific plan is non-existent, though he did manage to squeeze in a seven minute meeting with Congressional leaders yesterday. I'm sure that was productive. Like everyone else in Washington, Senate Democrats have known that the sequester was coming for the last sixteen months, and this is what they've come up with at the very last minute? Republicans passed two bills containing explicit plans to replace the president's sequester with more responsible offsetting cuts. Democrats blocked both, then sat around and did nothing until Harry Reid filed cloture on this hilarious bill yesterday. We'll have Senate votes later this afternoon, both on this non-starter and the Senate Republicans' alternative -- which is also going nowhere.
Meanwhile, the Woodward story continues to percolate. People will continue to argue over whether he hyped the nature of the "threat" he received, but what's clear is that Woodward was correct on his sequester facts. Despite the White House's repeated denials, the sequester was proposed by them and signed into law by the president. Don't believe him? Ask a prominent Democrat Senator who's confirmed the cuts' origins. This is why many liberals and members of the media have shifted from arguing, "it was Congress' idea," to "it doesn't matter whose idea it was." The Left is also claiming that Woodward's analysis of Obama's goal-post shifting is factually inaccurate. Here's TPM's Brian Beutler "debunking" Woodward's reporting:
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.
As John Sexton has pointed out, though, Woodward is not "just dead wrong." Yes, the president proposed sequestration and signed the Budget Control Act in 2011 with the expressed hope that the so-called Super Committee would prevent the sequester with a commensurate deficit reduction package. That offsetting package, he argued, should include a mix of spending cuts and increased revenues. The Super Committee convened, negotiated, and failed. The group's Republican members offered a $1.2 trillion plan that reportedly included $500 billion in revenues over ten years. Democrats walked away, demanding $1 trillion in tax hikes, and offering no formal counterproposal. So the GOP tried to reach a productive agreement that aligned on some level with the president's demand for "balance." Democrats rebuffed their good-faith attempt, and the Super Committee failed. Now that sequestration is upon us, the president is again trying to forestall or replace his own mechanism -- an act that he once threatened to veto. The mechanism that he created and insisted upon is comprised of 100 percent cuts. That's what the law says. He signed it. By law, the consequence of the Super Committee's failure is the implementation of his all-cuts sequester. Trying to redefine the sequester at the very last minute is the very definition of moving the goal post. "Threats" aside, Woodward is right here.