A “Sequester” Is Not the Same Thing as a “Substitute for the Sequester”

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Whose idea was the sequester? Bob Woodward wrote an op-ed yesterday that says it came from the White House. Apparently, in return for raising the debt ceiling, Republicans wanted some kind of automatic trigger that would force everyone to negotiate a future reduction in the deficit, and the only thing Obama’s budget wonks could come up with was the sequester. So they suggested that, and both parties then overwhelmingly voted for it.

Fine. But then there’s this:

The final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester….So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made.

This is just damn peculiar. Even phrased the way Woodward did, it’s obvious that these aren’t the same things. The fact that there were no tax increases in the sequester—i.e., in the mechanism used to goad both sides into a future deal—has nothing to do with what the two sides agreed would be in the substitute for the sequester. The details of the substitute were obviously a subject for future negotiation. For chapter and verse on the fact that both sides knew perfectly well that Democrats would propose tax increases as part of the substitute, see Ezra Klein, Brian Beutler, and Dave Weigel.

I’m perplexed by Woodward these days. He really seems to have some kind of weird jones against the Obama White House. I can’t quite figure out where it comes from.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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