Emails Debunk Woodward’s Claims Of Threats By Obama White House

Bob Woodward’s nonsense about the budget battle and sequester is increasingly looking like a pathetic attempt to get attention. Woodward has been been making blatantly incorrect claims about the situation along with baseless attacks on Obama. He tried to top that by claiming that the Obama White House has been engaging in Nixonian personal attacks on him. Gawker has repeated some of Woodward’s claims that he has been threatened:

Woodward appeared on CNN’s Situation Room to discuss his claims regarding the sequester. When Wolf Blitzer asked him to described the White House’s reactions to his claims, Woodward paraphrased the above email exchange, attributing it to a “very senior” White House official. Here is what Woodward said:

“It was said very clearly, you will regret doing this… It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters ‘You will regret’ doing something that you believe in.’ I think if Barack Obama knew that was part of the communications strategy—let’s hope it’s not a strategy, but as a tactic—he’d say look, we don’t go around saying to reporters, you will regret this.”

and:

Woodward doubled down on his claims about the White House “strategy” in a The Politico interview published last night:

Woodward repeated the last sentence, making clear he saw it as a veiled threat. “‘You’ll regret.’ Come on,” he said. “I think if Obama himself saw the way they’re dealing with some of this, he would say, ‘Whoa, we don’t tell any reporter ‘you’re going to regret challenging us.’”

“They have to be willing to live in the world where they’re challenged,” Woodward continued in his calm, instantly recognizable voice. “I’ve tangled with lots of these people. But suppose there’s a young reporter who’s only had a couple of years – or 10 years’ – experience and the White House is sending him an email saying, ‘You’re going to regret this.’ You know, tremble, tremble. I don’t think it’s the way to operate

Today Politico released the actual email exchange:

From Gene Sperling to Bob Woodward on Feb. 22, 2013

Bob:

I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain 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: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)

I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.

My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.

Gene

Hardly sounds very threatening, and from his response it doesn’t appear that Woodward initially saw this as a threat:

From Woodward to Sperling on Feb. 23, 2013

Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today. Best, Bob

Conservative writers  were initially excited about Woodward’s attacks on the Obama White House, but Media Matters cites several who now realize “we got played.”

More Than You Are Probably Interested In Regarding The Sequester,The Affordable Care Act, and Physician Payment

I had been wondering why I have not received a notice from CMS that Medicare payments would be cut by two percent starting March 1 due to the sequester. It has become quite common to receive notices of possible cuts considering all the threatened cuts due to the sustainable growth formula which Congress repeatedly circumvents at the last minute. I found out today that the sequester doesn’t begin to affect Medicare payments until April 1. As Medicare routinely holds payments for two weeks, this actually means we will have six weeks for the sequester to be resolved before this becomes an issue.

Of course there are many other problems which will be caused by the sequester, some now and some down the road, and I don’t expect others to be overly concerned about small cuts in physician payment. Still for me this is a headache, not only because of a decrease in payments but because of the accounting headaches should this turn out to be temporary and the balance of the payments are sent at a later date.

We already have another situation causing us to have to receive partial payment and then the remainder at a later date. The Affordable Care Act calls for Medicaid payment for primary care services to be increased to Medicare levels for two years as of his January. Unfortunately what sounds like something simple has turned out to be bureaucratically quite difficult as the federal government has to approve the updated fee schedules from Medicaid programs from all fifty states. As of now, zero states have completed the approval process. This means that we are now being paid under the old fee schedules and will be paid the higher amounts retroactively to January at a later date. Those who understand how cumbersome medical billing is will recognize the nuisance this causes. Hopefully we won’t go through the same problems because of the sequester.

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