In followup to this post of mine from earlier today, I want to point out Ezra Klein’s post from last night titled “On the sequester, the American people ‘moved the goalposts’.” It begins:
I don’t agree with my colleague Bob Woodward, who says
the Obama administration is “moving the goalposts” when they insist on a sequester replacement that includes revenues. I remember talking to both members of the Obama administration and the Republican leadership in 2011, and everyone was perfectly clear that Democrats were going to pursue tax increases in any sequester replacement, and Republicans were going to oppose tax increases in any sequester replacement. What no one knew was who would win.
“Moving the goal posts” isn’t a concept that actually makes any sense in the context of replacing the sequester. The whole point of the policy was to buy time until someone, somehow, moved the goalposts such that the sequester could be replaced.
He then notes:
The sequester was a punt. The point was to give both sides a face-saving way to raise the debt ceiling even though the tax issue was stopping them from agreeing to a deficit deal. The hope was that sometime between the day the sequester was signed into law (Aug. 2, 2011) and the day it was set to go into effect (Jan. 1, 2013), something would…change.
There were two candidates to drive that change. The first and least likely was the supercommittee. If they came to a deal that both sides accepted, they could replace the sequester. They failed.
The second was the 2012 election. If Republicans won, then that would pretty much settle it: No tax increases. If President Obama won, then that, too, would pretty much settle it: The American people would’ve voted for the guy who wants to cut the deficit by increasing taxes.
The American people voted for the guy who wants to cut the deficit by increasing taxes.
And then there’s the coup de grâce:
In fact, they went even further than that. They also voted for a Senate that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes. And then they voted for a House that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes, though due to the quirks of congressional districts, they didn’t get one.
He ends his post by saying:
Here in DC, we can get a bit buried in Beltway minutia. The ongoing blame game over who concocted the sequester is an excellent example. But it’s worth remembering that the goalposts in American politics aren’t set in backroom deals between politicians. They’re set in elections. And in the 2012 election, the American people were very clear on where they wanted the goalposts moved to.
So Klein first makes clear, from his own direct, first-hand knowledge, that Woodward’s central representation of fact is false. He then deconstructs the very meaning of Woodward’s essential opinion claim by pointing out that it’s nutty.
The Washington Post for the last several years has been engaged in numerous rounds of cost-cutting efforts, mainly through layoffs and buyouts. Yet it continues to pay this has-been an almost-certainly-outsized salary, because 40 years ago he played a key role in breaking open this country’s worst (by far) political scandal, and thus cemented the Post’s status as a rival to the New York Times.
But this episode highlights that that has become counterproductive.
UPDATE: Oh, dear. Turns out that Woodward took a buyout from the Post all the way back in 2008. Who knew? After all, the preface to that now-infamous reporting–er, opinion-piece–published this weekend says he’s an associate editor. And he gets paid only about $2 per word! Maybe when his current contract runs out, the Post will start requiring him to pay the newspaper $2 per word to allow him to publish his outstanding reporting there. Or at least will start requiring him to fact-check what he publishes there.
Given that this info was easily available on the web before I posted this post yesterday, the Post might consider hiring me to write for them. Looks like I qualify.