Whose Idea Was the Sequester?

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This is hardly the most pressing issue in the world, but it’s been niggling at me all morning. Here is Charles Krauthammer today:

For the first time since Election Day, President Obama is on the defensive. That’s because on March 1, automatic spending cuts (“sequestration”) go into effect — $1.2 trillion over 10 years, half from domestic (discretionary) programs, half from defense. The idea had been proposed and promoted by the White House during the July 2011 debt-ceiling negotiations. The political calculation was that such draconian defense cuts would drive the GOP to offer concessions.

For some reason, this has become an article of faith on the right: the sequester was Obama’s idea, and now he has to live with it. I’m not sure why this is so important to them, but it is.

As it happens, that’s not how I remember things, but I figured maybe my memory was faulty. It wouldn’t be the first time. So I googled up some news stories from late July 2011 to see just whose idea this was. Here’s one from the 25th: “The back and forth began when House Republicans rolled out a two-stage deficit reduction plan that would…tie a second increase early next year to the ability of a new bipartisan Congressional committee to produce more deficit reduction measures.” Here’s another from the 29th: “Republicans have endorsed a Democratic idea of setting up a special committee to find additional savings.” And this from the 30th:

Mr. McConnell called Mr. Biden early Saturday afternoon….The deal they were discussing, this person said, resembled the bill that Mr. Boehner won approval for in the House on Friday….set up a new bipartisan committee….A failure of the new committee to win enactment of its proposal could then set off automatic spending cuts across the board, including to entitlement programs.

So that’s one story suggesting it was a Republican plan, a second suggesting it was a Republican plan based on a Democratic idea, and a third suggesting it was the result of talks between McConnell and Biden. So I guess I’m still murky on this. Was it initially a Democratic idea? Something that sprang forth from the forehead of Zeus? Or just one of those eternal ideas that crop up over and over in Washington DC and just happened to emerge yet again from the sludge of last-minute talks in late July?

Anyone happen to know if there’s a definitive answer to this?

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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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