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More Evidence Defense Sequestration Originated in White House

The hulking budget cuts now facing the Pentagon were initially pitched to Harry Reid by the White House, which saw them as a way to leverage a tax-increasing “grand bargain” from Republicans, according to Bob Woodward’s latest book. Politico reports:

The book The Price of Politics, by Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward, makes it clear the idea for the draconian spending cuts originated in the White House – and not in Congress.

According to the book, excerpts of which were obtained by POLITICO ahead of the Sept. 11 release, President Barack Obama’s top deputies believed the prospect of massive defense cuts would compel Republicans to agree to a deficit-cutting grand bargain.

Then-OMB Director Jack Lew, now the White House chief of staff, and White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors pitched the idea to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Woodward writes. Under the deal, which Republicans accepted after several rounds of bargaining, the federal debt ceiling was raised — staving off a potential financial crisis.

With the cuts are looming, Republicans have criticized President Obama for failing to work with Congress on a compromise to stave off sequestration. Obama, meanwhile, has blamed the GOP for getting itself into the mess, arguing last month that Republicans are trying to “wriggle out of what they agreed to do.” The president insists they must agree to tax hikes if they want to save national defense from the debilitating cuts.

The White House Office of Management and Budget is required by law to release a transparency report today detailing how sequestration would be implemented. As I reported yesterday, there’s concern on the Hill that the administration may ignore the deadline. As of 11 a.m. this morning, there’s no sign of the report.