This has not been a good week for President Obama’s campaign to use $44 billion in automatic spending cuts as leverage to force Republicans to vote for higher taxes. First, legendary journalist Bob Woodward dismantled the White House’s account of how the sequester was created. Now, Woodward is telling Politico that the White House responded by threatening him if he went forward with his claim.

Then Education Secretary Arne Duncan was caught in a baldfaced lie about the sequester causing teacher layoffs. On Face the Nation last Sunday Duncan told CBS, “As many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs. … There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall.” But when pressed to identify which teachers are “literally” getting pink slips right now, Duncan could only name one country in West Virginia. And when The Washington Post followed up with the director of federal programs for that county, she said that while five to six teachers were being laid off, those layoffs had nothing to do with the sequester. In fact, they were caused by a previous White House decision to cut funding for ineffective Head Start programs.

Now newspapers across the country are all running stories directly refuting Obama’s “sky is falling” Chicken Little act. The Associated Press reported yesterday that, “President Barack Obama and his officials are doing their best to drum up public concern over the shock wave of spending cuts that could strike the government in just days. So it’s a good time to be alert for sky-is-falling hype.” And Reuters reports today, “The actual amount of savings is much less – $43 billion in the current fiscal year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s because federal agencies don’t spend all of the money they are allocated in any given fiscal year. A $1 billion aircraft carrier, for example, may take years to build.”

When the sun rises on Saturday morning and House Republicans will still have not agreed to new tax hikes, Obama will be forced to step up his sequestration pressure campaign. He will do everything possible to maximize the pain caused by the sequester and dramatize the efforts. Thanks to Duncan, Republicans now have a strong response: the White House is lying about the sequester and Obama’s ability to minimize sequestration’s effects.

The sooner Obama realizes he has lost, signs a continuing resolution making the sequester permanent, and moves on to the rest of his agenda, the better it will be for him.

From The Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial: On pipeline, unions take a back seat to Big Green
David Freddoso: No, the stimulus probably didn’t help the job market, in one chart
Byron York: Does Obama have power to avoid painful cuts? Does Congress really need to give him more?
Michal Conger: Failures in managing federal property costing taxpayers billions
Conn Carroll: California’s green jobs bust
Tim Carney: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell sides with business over conservatives
Phil Klein: CPAC spox says group hasn’t abandoned health care fight

In Other News
The Wall Street Journal, Gas Boom Projected to Grow for Decades: U.S. natural-gas production will accelerate over the next three decades, new research indicates, providing the strongest evidence yet that the energy boom remaking America will last for a generation.
The New York Times, Voting Rights Law Draws Skepticism From Justices: A central provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 may be in peril, judging from tough questioning on Wednesday from the Supreme Court’s more conservative members.
The New York Times, U.S. Offers Training and Other Aid to Syrian Rebels: The United States is significantly stepping up its support for the Syrian opposition, senior administration officials said on Wednesday, helping to train rebels at a base in the region and for the first time offering armed groups nonlethal assistance and equipment that could help their military campaign.

Lefty Playbook
Think Progress attacks Justice Scalia for saying unanimous passage of the Voting Rights Act shows it has become a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
Perry Stein worries that the sequester will cause another recession
Greg Sargent notes that NRA affiliation has become a litmus test issue in Democratic primaries.

Righty Playbook
Ilya Shapiro on yesterday Voting Rights Act argument in the Supreme Court.
James Pethokoukis says US needs more private-sector growth, not GDP accounting tricks.
Katrino Trinko reports on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s, R-Va., fight with Republicans over the Violence Against Women Act.