Obama's claim of 8:45PM, September 9, 2009
TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS ON HEALTH CARE
"First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits -- either now or in the future. (Applause.) I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period."
As Senator, Obama sponsored the PayGo or Sequester Process
(July 12, 2011):
They turned to [White House national economic council director Gene] Sperling for details about a compulsory trigger if they didn’t cut spending or raise taxes in an amount at least equivalent to the debt ceiling increase.
“A trigger would lock in our commitment,” Sperling explained. “Even though we disagree on the composition of how to get to the cuts, it would lock us in. The form of the automatic sequester would punish both sides. We’d have to September to avert any sequester” — a legal obligation to make spending cuts.
“This would be an enforcement mechanism,” Obama said.
“If this is a trigger for tax reform,” [House speaker John] Boehner said, “this could be worth discussing. But as a budget tool, it’s too complicated. I’m very nervous about this.”
“Then we could use a medium or big deal to force tax reform,” Obama said optimistically.
At 2:30 p.m., [White House Budget director Jack] Lew and [White House legislative affairs director Rob] Nabors went to the Senate to meet with [Senator Majority Leader Harry] Reid and his chief of staff, David Krone.
“We have an idea for a trigger,” Lew said.
“What’s the idea,” Reid asked skeptically.
Reid bent down and put his head between his knees, almost as if he was going to throw up or was having a heart attack. He sat back up and looked at the ceiling.
“A couple of weeks ago,” he said, “my staff said to me that there is one more possible” enforcement mechanism: sequestration. He said he told them, “Get the hell out of here. That’s insane. The White House surely will come up with a plan that will save the day. And you come to me with sequestration?”
Well, it could work, Lew and Nabors explained.
What would the impact be?
They would design it so that half the threatened cuts would be from the Defense Department….The idea was to make all of the threatened cuts so unthinkable and onerous that the supercommittee [tasked with making additional cuts] would do its work and come up with its own deficit reduction plan. Lew and Nabors went through a laundry list of programs that would face cuts.
“This is ridiculous,” Reid said.
That’s the beauty of a sequester, they said, it’s so ridiculous that no one ever wants it to happen. It was the bomb that no one wanted to drop. It actually would be an action-forcing event.
“I get it,” Reid said finally.
This is the third reference to the White House putting together the plan for sequester. Granted, they are using language from a congressional law from a quarter-century earlier, but that seems a thin reed on which to say this came from Congress. In fact, Lew had been a policy advisor to then House Speaker Tip O’Neill from 1979 to 1987, and so was familiar with the law.
Republicans agreed to the White House proposal for a sequester.Republicans had to work through the night to understand the White House proposal.