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


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

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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.

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

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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)

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

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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

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“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.”

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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)

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

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