Leon Panetta Calls Sequester ‘Shameful,’ Fails To Mention White House Proposed It

Outgoing defense secretary said that if Congress allows the sequester – which would cut defense spending – to go through it would be shameful.

During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Panetta pressed lawmakers to find a way to avoid the cuts, slated to take effect on March 1, warning that it would impact the military’s preparedness.

“If Congress stands back and allows the sequester to happen, it would be a shameful, irresponsible act,” he said.

Congress set up the package of sweeping across-the-board budget cuts totaling $1.2 billion that would take effect if they could not reach a deficit-reduction agreement in the Budget Control Act of 2011. (Read More)

What Panetta, and the article above, failed to mention is that the sequester was the brain child of the White House.

No one disputes the fact that no one wanted sequestration, or that ultimately a bipartisan vote in Congress led to passage of the Budget Control Act. But the president categorically said that sequestration was “something that Congress has proposed.”

Woodward’s detailed account of meetings during the crisis, clearly based on interviews with key participants and contemporaneous notes, make it clear that sequestration was a proposal advanced and promoted by the White House.

In sum: Gene Sperling brought up the idea of a sequester, while Jack Lew sold Harry Reid on the idea and then decided to use the Gramm-Hollings-Rudman language (which he knew from his days of working for Tip O’Neill) as a template for sequester. The proposal was so unusual for Republicans that staffers had to work through the night to understand it.

Oddly, Lew in Tampa on Thursday, publicly asserted the opposite: “There was an insistence on the part of Republicans in Congress for there to be some automatic trigger…. [It] was very much rooted in the Republican congressional insistence that there be an automatic measure at the end.”

This prompted Woodward to go over his notes and interviews once again, to make sure he had gotten it right.

“After reviewing all the interviews and the extensive material I have on this issue, it looks like President Obama told a whopper,” Woodward said.  “Based on what Jack Lew said in Florida today, I have asked the White House to correct the record.”

We had been wavering between Three and Four Pinocchios. But in light’s of Lew’s decision to doubledown on Obama’s claim, we agree it’s a whopper. (Read More)

It was a whopper alright, a whopper they continue to repeat.