Saturday, February 23, 2013

Woodward Slander, Sequester and Deficit Reduction

First it was the claim that President Obama moved the goal post when Speaker Boehner refused around One Trillion Dollar revenue increase in the Obama offer of Grand Bargain in 2011. Bob Woodword wrote the book and tried to blame President when in reality it was the Speaker who failed to bring his caucus on board.

Now once again Woodward is at some old tricks - blaming President Obama for asking revenue in sequester defusing proposals; claiming that sequester is all about spending cuts. No wonder White House is hitting back so strongly and they need to reply back for sure.

Sequester was to force Congress to act. But Super Committee failed because GOP did not agree for any revenue increase. As has been rightly pointed, in the original sequester agreement; it was all about 'deficit reduction, not just spending cuts'. Hence President Obama is right to insist that 'revenue' must be part of the deal.

It is not clear what is the malice Bob Woodward has with this President. But time and again, he has attempted to advocate a line of argument which would undermine this President and basically undermine any sensible resolution to our Deficit Reductions Plans. Woodward cannot claim to hide behind 'but I am just a journalist reporting as I see' argument because for every President, he has attempted to get an 'inside track' about sensitive information and since Americans would not have any opportunity to validate those 'information tidbits'; Woodward gets tremendous latitude in selling his interpretations to the world. That kind of 'journalism' may be all kosher in pulling down Nixon, but Woodward seems to be stuck in such archaic and essentially 'corrupt' ways about gaining information. With the spread of Internet and death of Print Media, the world has changed

Whether President Obama gets actually any 'revenue increase' in any sequester resolution; that is a different matter. There should be 'revenue' in the mix; is also a generally accepted principle. But to advocate revenue should not be at all on the table is like joining Simposon-Bowles in low balling revenue needed to reduce our deficit. All these attempts by so called 'very serious people' (at least David Brooks had decency in apologizing for his willfully wrong characterization of President Obama) is effectively way of 'turning down what the election of 2012 implies - revenue should be part of the deficit resolution'. 

Republicans argue, but Biden-McConnell Agreement does raise taxes and bring revenue on the table. However that is just $660 Billions over 10 years whereas Boehner himself had considered around $800 Billion to $1.2 Trillion revenue increase in earlier discussions. So we are not there yet in terms of having brought in much needed revenue. On that background, basically Republicans are 'short changing' revenues of Fed and these so called 'very serious people' (Woodward, Simson, Bowles, Brooks, etc.) are essentially actively encouraging that!

That is why few on Left like Jonathan Chait were apprehensive for the Biden-McConnell accord and worried that it would essentially result giving up lot revenue permanently. May be their fears are coming true now. (Not taking Biden-McConnell at that point would have been very bad, essentially not even gaining $660 Billion of revenues and poisoning the Political Well to a saturation point with serious consequences to Economy.) Which means, in the end President Obama will have to accept the sequester and plough through its difficulties. There could be few things which may help Administration in this regard:
- Sustained political pressure on Republicans through Media may force them to consider at least relaxing few stupid conditions of sequester like not giving freedom to Department Heads to decide where to cut the said amount. Spending Cuts Only Republicans should not have any problem here because amount of cuts does not change and they get the political credit for responding to bad sequester.
- As some have argued correctly, 5% reduction in department expenses; that is what Federal Government must be able to deal with. Most Private Organization do such purging on regular basis and to be efficient Federal Government also must do that.
- Congress would have easy opportunities to restore funding for some of these programs when Congress makes annual budgets. If political pressure is strong and Congress has to act, then these same Republican Crazies in House will back certain programs with more funding. So in that sense, this should not be end of the world. (But that does not mean White House relaxes the paddle on relentless Media Blitz about the negative effects of sequester; that is still needed.)
- Finally, sequester is a right opportunity to rationalize America's Military Budget. We should not loose that chance considering all these wild military programs

Given all this, Senate should still pass it's sequester resolving bill next week where 50% is revenue and 50% cuts. If nothing else, it will at least give President Obama some sensible basis to work out a resolution with Republicans (even though as many Liberals argue, that is a bad strategy to start negotiations; you do not start it where you want to comprise in the end; same mistakes President Obama has made again and again).

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