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Bob Woodward vs. the White House: Who's right in 'sequester' smackdown? (+video)

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The latter Woodward charge is more open to debate. Speaker Boehner may have thought that the “grand bargain” deficit-reduction package he nearly struck with the White House back in 2011 was all about budget cuts. But the administration pretty clearly thought more tax revenue would be included as well.

Slate’s Moneybox columnist Matthew Yglesias writes Thursday that the deficit-reduction effort that might hold off sequestration has always been an undefined rough beast that both sides want to shape to their own preferences.

“Either everyone’s moving the goalposts (which I think is tendentious but even-handed) or no one is moving them,” writes Mr. Yglesias.

Now for the shoving part. Politico revealed Wednesday that Gene Sperling, economic adviser to Mr. Obama, e-mailed Woodward last week suggesting that the journalist would “regret” his comments.

“I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today ... but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest ... as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim,” wrote Mr. Sperling.

Was Sperling being too pushy here? The word “regret” is used in a context that is open to several interpretations. At first glance, it just seems as if Sperling is saying Woodward will regret his statements because he (Sperling) thinks they will later be proved wrong. But e-mail strips out emotion and nuance. We don’t know what that raised-voice conversation was like.

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