Bob Woodward on CBS: 'Very Difficult' Republicans are 'Like a Brick Wall'

Bob Woodward singled out congressional Republicans as the main party to blame for the 2011 debt ceiling showdown during an interview on Wednesday's CBS This Morning and minimized President Obama and Senate Democrats's responsibility regarding the looming fiscal cliff: "The Republicans are like a brick wall, and it's very difficult to deal with them."

Woodward also bemoaned that the press apparently wasn't doing enough to press the budget issue with Obama and Romney: "What's astonishing to me, is it clearly is the key domestic issue. We have a presidential campaign going on....and no one is pressing the candidates – if we had the candidates here, we would say, what is your plan? What are you going to do? This is not something to do by the seat of your pants....we need to have answers."

Anchors Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell brought on the Washington Post veteran to discuss his new book, "The Price Of Politics." O'Donnell hyped that "fiscal Armageddon, I think, is the word that has been used, and I don't think people get it. It certainly doesn't seem like the people in Washington - the lawmakers - get it....we're talking about trillions of dollars in spending cuts that become immediate; the expiration of all of the tax cuts for everybody, not just the wealthiest Americans - that the CBO has said will plunge this country into a recession. And is anybody in Washington doing anything?" Woodward replied with his "no one is pressing the candidates" lament.

Near the end of the segment, Rose asked about the negotiations between the President and House Speaker John Boehner: "Let me look back to history, which you write about in this book. Is it possible that the administration could have done more to get to a deal, and we would not be facing the kind of fiscal cliff we face now?" Even though the Washington Post editor later gave some credit to Boehner, he led with his "brick wall" label of Republicans in general. One wonders if he would ever apply the same term to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Democratic caucus, who haven't passed a budget for most of President Obama's term in office.

The transcript of the relevant portion of Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell's interview of Bob Woodward on Wednesday's CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: ...Let me turn to the book, 'The Price of Politics'. You lay out what happened in Washington when they were trying to deal with the debt ceiling and could not. There are intense negotiations between President Obama and Speaker [John] Boehner and others. Any reason to believe that once this political election is over and we have a new president, they'll be able to solve it? And if they don't solve it, what happens?

Bob Woodward, Washington Post Associate Editor; Screen Cap From 12 September 2012 Edition of CBS This Morning | NewsBusters.orgBOB WOODWARD, WASHINGTON POST ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Well, somebody's got to solve it. We're spending and borrowing $1 trillion a year that we don't have, and it gets to a point that the world will say, wait a minute, too much borrowing, and the interest rates will go up. And it sounds technical, but it can affect everyone in this country - the value of their home, the value of what's in the bank, the – you know, anything of any monetary value. So we are right – it is a moment of maximum peril. This is the sort of thing that could start another recession - maybe even worse.

NORAH O'DONNELL: I mean, I think it's – fiscal Armageddon, I think, is the word that has been used, and I don't think people get it. It certainly doesn't seem like the people in Washington - the lawmakers - get it. I mean, you detailed in your book - not just what happened last time. But we're talking about trillions of dollars in spending cuts that become immediate; the expiration of all of the tax cuts for everybody, not just the wealthiest Americans - that the CBO has said will plunge this country into a recession. And is anybody in Washington doing anything?

WOODWARD: There's some talk about it. I mean, what's astonishing to me, is it clearly is the key domestic issue. We have a presidential campaign going on. Other-

O'DONNELL: It's all about the economy and jobs, and nobody is doing the thing that could actually help the economy.

WOODWARD: And no one is pressing the candidates – if we had the candidates here, we would say, what is your plan? What are you going to do? This is not something to do by the seat of your pants-

O'DONNELL: Right-

WOODWARD: And there – we need to have answers. I mean, there are big themes in all of this and big lessons, and I guess probably the chief lesson is, you have to carry things over the finish line. And if you look at what's happened, they never really got close enough.

ROSE: Let me look back to history, which you write about in this book. Is it possible that the administration could have done more to get to a deal, and we would not be facing the kind of fiscal cliff we face now?


WOODWARD: It's always possible, and if you look – I mean, the Republicans are like a brick wall, and it's very difficult to deal with them. But the leader in the House, Speaker Boehner, initiated the contacts with the President on this, was willing to do some sort of tax reform. The President said he was willing to do some sort of entitlement reform. But we're in a situation – when I talked to the President about this, he made the very important key point that you can't cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, which, you know, provides health insurance for 50 million poor people in this country. These are the vulnerable populations. You got to find some way to reform it. But there's been a lot of rhetoric, and the President saying, oh, gee, I'd be willing to be a one-term President if I could fix this, and we're not close.

ROSE: Exactly.

O'DONNELL: Bob, as always, fabulous book and great reporting. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

WOODWARD: Thanks.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center