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WH Adviser Gene Sperling: We Did Put Forward The Framework Of Sequester

GREGORY: Back in October, the President staked out some very clear grounds, in a presidential debate against Mitt Romney, here is one:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: First of all, the sequester is not something that I proposed. IT is something that congress proposed. It will not happen. The budget that we’re talking about is not reducing our military spending, it is maintaining it.

GREGORY: As the White House as acknowledged, that is not accurate. The President did propose it. He didn’t want it to become law, and Republicans supported it, that it was the White House’s idea, he said equivocally, it will not happen. And yet it’s happened. Is there some responsibility he bears?

SPERLING: David, Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine gave the following analogy: A mugger comes up to you and says, give me your wallet. You say, I don’t have my wallet, but here is my watch. Well, technically, giving the watch was your idea, but it doesn’t really tell the whole story. We know, everyone knows, that the president wanted an enforcement mechanism that included revenues on the most well-off. The speaker insisted, the Republicans insisted that if this be an enforcement mechanism, that it be on all spending cuts. Because we were forced to do that, it is true we suggested going back to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings mechanism.

GREGORY: That's not what he said in that debate.

SPERLING: Well, I think that--

DAVID GREGORY: He said, "I didn't propose it."

GENE SPERLING: But I think it's most accurate that they did propose an all-spending cut mechanism that would have this type of harmful impact on defense, and on education and research. And the idea-- and this is the critical part. The idea was not that these would go into effect, but that people of good faith would come back and compromise. And we know that that is what's important.

You know, Republicans aren't getting a win by letting the sequester go into effect. They want more funding for border security. They say they want more funding for defense. The speaker says he wants more on long-term entitlement reform. This gets nothing.

DAVID GREGORY: But is the president right or wrong, in that clip that I just showed you?

GENE SPERLING: I think the president was overall right in that the idea of an across-the-board, all-spending cut was the idea of Republicans. But, yes, we put forward the design of how to do that. But, David--

DAVID GREGORY: Which was the sequester.

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