GREGORY: Back in October, the President staked out some very clear grounds, in a presidential debate against Mitt Romney, here is one:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: First of all, the sequester is not something that I proposed. IT is something that congress proposed. It will not happen. The budget that we’re talking about is not reducing our military spending, it is maintaining it.
GREGORY: As the White House as acknowledged, that is not accurate. The President did propose it. He didn’t want it to become law, and Republicans supported it, that it was the White House’s idea, he said equivocally, it will not happen. And yet it’s happened. Is there some responsibility he bears?
SPERLING: David, Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine gave the following analogy: A mugger comes up to you and says, give me your wallet. You say, I don’t have my wallet, but here is my watch. Well, technically, giving the watch was your idea, but it doesn’t really tell the whole story. We know, everyone knows, that the president wanted an enforcement mechanism that included revenues on the most well-off. The speaker insisted, the Republicans insisted that if this be an enforcement mechanism, that it be on all spending cuts. Because we were forced to do that, it is true we suggested going back to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings mechanism.
GREGORY: That’s not what he said in that debate.
SPERLING: Well, I think that–
DAVID GREGORY: He said, “I didn’t propose it.”
Listening to the President, you’d think someone else thought it up.
But he proposed it after all. So was the sequester Obama’s idea? Not his idea? His idea? Was Bob Woodward right? Did Sperling threaten Woodward or are they really best buddies such that Andrew Sullivan, who called Woodward a liar, is correct after all?
Here’s a notion.
Maybe the sequester just kind of happened. As to the true origins, well there is no truth in Washington. And if there is nobody cares what it is. It’s his idea, not his idea, his idea.
Tell Bob Woodward to forget it. It’s Chinatown.
The fundamental problem facing both political parties is that years of riding the gravy train have used the design margin up. The country is broke. Henceforth all budget cuts or tax increases must come out of the hide of one political constituency or the another. In the good old days whenever the GOP or the Dems got thirsty they could in the last analysis pump more water out of the well. But now the well is dry. So to satisfy their core constituencies the politicians have to steal water from each other.
But that’s a zero sum game. Pareto has left the building. The old political spoils system has nothing more to dispense except pain. ‘Happy Days’ aren’t coming back any time soon and the only game left to play is the blame game. Neither side has yet come to terms with the idea that they are the disease, not the cure. There is no solution to the budget problem at the current share of government spending. The only way the ration of water is going to suffice, given the exhaustion of the well, is for politicians, consultants, journalists, Beltway aristocrats, and camp-followers gathered round the barrel to thin out.
The politicians have not come to that idea yet. But arithmetic will enforce the outcome by the end.