The CR blame game will be nastier


U.S. President Barack Obama discusses the economy and the latest employment figures alongside his new head of the Economic Council, Gene Sperling (L), at Thompson Creek Window Company in Landover, Maryland, January 7, 2011.

Article Highlights

  • The "regret-gate" storm with Gene Sperling over sequester paternity misses a major problem in the sequester spin battle.

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  • The sequester may turn into a Waterloo for the heretofore Teflon Obama.

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  • Get ready for a government shutdown and an even meaner blame game. #sequester

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The "regret-gate" storm over whether Bob Woodward misrepresented his exchange with White House head economist Gene Sperling over sequester paternity misses a major problem that the sequester spin battle has created for the Obama White House crew.

Woodward's book and his Washington Post article last weekend, along with a string of stories over the last week in Politico and elsewhere, constitute the start of media pushback on the White House's heavy-handed use of intimidation - the threat of no access - to get reporters to spin stories their way or not write them at all. The president has been inaccessible, but his staff has got the message that stories/reporters he doesn't like are to be dealt with harshly.

The sequester stories are a case in point. As the president and White House staff began to realize that the sequester would happen and that the president's histrionics about how awful it was going to be would look downright silly once March 1 passed and the world didn't end, stories from an influential writer-insider like Woodward that accurately described the sequester as an Obama creation must have enraged the president. Cabinet secretaries like Arne Duncan were co-opted into saying silly things like the sequester was creating "pink slips" for West Virginia teachers. The Washington Post checked and reported that the story was flatly untrue.

The sequester may turn into a Waterloo for the heretofore Teflon Obama. It has become pretty clear that this emperor has no clothes. The stories to reinforce that image are beginning to ooze out. And we haven't even got started yet on the even nastier and more important battle surrounding the looming March 27 continuing-resolution deadline. Get ready for a government shutdown and an even meaner blame game.


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About the Author


John H.
  • John H. Makin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) where he studies the US economy, monetary policy, financial markets, corporate taxation and banking. He also studies and writes frequently about Japanese, Chinese and European economic issues.

    Makin has served as a consultant to the US Treasury Department, the Congressional Budget Office, and the International Monetary Fund. He spent twenty years on Wall Street as the chief economist, and later as a principal of Caxton Associates a trading and investment firm. Earlier, Makin taught economics at various universities including the University of Virginia. He has also been a scholar at the Bank of Japan, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Federal Bank of Chicago, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. A prolific writer, Makin is the author of numerous books and articles on financial, monetary, and fiscal policy. Makin also writes AEI's monthly Economic Outlook which pairs insightful research with current economic topics.

    Makin received his doctorate and master’s degree in economics from University of Chicago, and bachelor’s degree in economics from Trinity College.

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