Sperling's Disingenuous Defense of Sequester

Sperling's Disingenuous Defense of Sequester

White House economic adviser Gene Sperling, who controversially told journalist Bob Woodward he would “regret” accusing the Obama administration of shifting the goalposts to include tax hikes in debate over the sequester, offered a misleading defense of the sequester on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley on Sunday.

Sperling told Crowley that the original intent of the sequester was “to force both sides to come back to the type of grand bargain that Bowles-Simpson have called for, that most budget experts call for…”. 

But President Barack Obama rejected the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson commission, even though he had established it to propose solutions to the country’s long-term budget crisis. 

As Woodward recalled in The Price of Politics, and as is easily confirmed by a variety of other sources, including former Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, Obama rejected the Bowles-Simpson formula because he was not willing to accept reforms to the country’s entitlements, including Social Security. 

Obama and the Democrats wanted larger tax hikes and fewer cuts to spending and entitlements. Many Republicans, too, rejected the plan, largely because it left the massive new entitlement of Obamacare in place.

Moreover, as Woodward pointed out elsewhere in the book (and as Breitbart News highlighted long before Woodward’s claims about the sequester made him a White House target), it was Obama himself who scuttled a “grand bargain” by demanding additional revenues through tax hikes when a deal had been within reach.

Sperling’s revisionist history invites the question: if the sequester had been meant to encourage a grand bargain like Bowles-Simpson, why hasn’t Obama simply embraced Bowles-Simpson?

The obvious answer is that Obama had no intention of reaching a deal, and hoped to use the sequester as he used the “fiscal cliff”–to squeeze more concessions out of Republicans on tax rates, and to blame the opposition for whatever horrible economic outcomes the administration could conjure.