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Friday, November 30, 2012

Has Pres. Obama become a savvy negotiator?

Ezra Klein on negotiations with congress over the fiscal cliff:

…Previously, Obama’s pattern had been to offer plans that roughly tracked where he thought the compromise should end up. The White House’s belief was that by being solicitous in their policy proposals, they would win goodwill on the other side, and even if they didn’t, the media would side with them, realizing they’d sought compromise and been rebuffed. They don’t believe that anymore.

Perhaps the key lesson the White House took from the last couple of years is this: Don’t negotiate with yourself. If Republicans want to cut Medicare, let them propose the cuts. If they want to raise revenue through tax reform, let them identify the deductions. If they want deeper cuts in discretionary spending, let them settle on a number. And, above all, if they don’t like the White House’s preferred policies, let them propose their own. That way, if the White House eventually does give in and agree to some of their demands, Republicans will feel like they got one over on the president. A compromise isn’t measured by what you offer, it’s measured by what the other side feels they made you concede.

Man, you sure hope so. The negotiating tactic in the first paragraph was what cost us the public option. Obama should’ve opened with singlepayer and made the public option the compromise position. Instead, he offered what he expected the end game to look like. You might as well sit down to a chess board, immediately set up an end game, yell, “Checkmate!” and ask, “Want to play again?” It doesn’t work that way.

Now, the President has Republicans on the spot. They’re demanding that Democrats “get serious” about entitlement cuts, but aren’t offering up any specifics of their own. Why? Because the public will hate any cuts. If Democrats propose them, then Democrats take the blame for them. And the President and his party aren’t falling for it.

You want cuts to Medicare? Fine. You step your shifty GOP ass up to the plate and name your cuts — and get your fingerprints all over them — or go back to the bench and shut up about it.

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