Cutting entitlements is "in the DNA" of the sequester
I agree with everyone in the universe that Bob Woodward is a jerk. But then I have tried to ignore him as much as possible at least since he wrote the hagiographic leak-fest Bush at War, which pretty much sealed Junior's reelection. So yeah, he's a purveyor of Village conventional wisdom and a servant of power and has been for many years. What else is new? (And needless to say, the idea that he felt threatened by Gene Sperling is simply laughable.)
But nobody seems to have noticed something very important in the substance of the Sperling emails. He wrote to Woodward:
The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand bar[g]ain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding -- from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios -- but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA [Budget Control Act of 2011]: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)
I don't know that anyone's ever admitted that in public before or that the president was completely, shall we say, honest when he ran for his second term about that specific definition of "a balanced approach". I haven't heard anyone say publicly that the sequester "deal" as far as the White House was concerned was to cut "entitlements" in exchange for new revenues. I wonder how many members of congress were aware of this "deal" when they voted for the sequester? The public certainly wasn't.
I wish I could understand why it is so important to Barack Obama to cut these vital programs before he leaves office. It seems to be his obsession. But there you have it. It's not just in the DNA of the sequester, it seems to be in the DNA of this White House.