Tuesday, December 4, 2012
The Art of Negotiating
Yesterday I watched Joe Scarborough of “Morning Joe” throw a hissy fit because the president's first offer to the republicans was a nonstarter. This morning he called John Boehner's counteroffer ridiculous but he left it at that. The panel kept reminiscing about the glory days of negotiations between Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan. Joe Scarborough wants President Obama and John Boehner to lock themselves in a room at Camp David and hammer out a deal. He discounts the fact that the president tried that method but came out on the losing end of the deal. The president wants to use his strength and take his case to the American people where he's winning public opinion, even though it doesn't necessarily get him the 218 votes he needs to pass a bill.
Political posturing is called “sausage making” because it doesn't look pretty but it's a necessary step to get the job done. Republicans are calling for the president to step up and lead in the negotiations but that is just a way of them saying that this president does not have any leadership skills. The president's plan was put on the public airways and it's on the White House web site, so the starting point has been established. It's fairly certain that the president will be front and center when the serious negotiations start.
It was mentioned that the republicans might let the 98% of Americans tax plan to pass without their help. They will vote “present” and allow the democrats to pass it thinking it will keep their hands clean because the marginal rate for the top 2% will be raised. That way they could tell their constituents that they allowed the bill to pass under protest. There's that other plan that Nancy Pelosi might use to get a bill to the floor if she can garner the necessary 218 votes. Either plan would get John Boehner off the hook with his more conservative caucus because it will be seen as being out of his hands.
There is strong talk that a deal may be made by the 23rd because it would look bad if Congress went on Christmas vacation while the fiscal cliff crisis loomed ahead. Some think it John Boehner will hold out to last possible minute (Dec. 31st) before surrendering the marginal rates saying he chose country over party loyalty. That might get him through the day but everyone knows he wants to be the speaker of the 213th Congress but he won't get if he is seen as caving in to President Obama too soon.. His base can read the tea leaves but they want him to fight to the end.
You might ask why it has to be so difficult and the answer is polarization. The final vote tally is in and the president will end up winning by 4.6 million votes. The president only won 23 counties, the red states got redder, so at the current pace that means that the gerrymandered districts will always favor a GOP controlled house but the democrats will have the senate and the presidency, unless there's a dramatic shift. I don't see any changes anytime soon and it might get worse before it gets better. For example, the runner up to Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, will now write articles for the extreme right wing conspiratorial website WorldNetDaily (WND). Then there is the Grover Norquist threat of a Tea Party 2.0 if the president gets what he wants. Grover is one on those people who thinks he is winning no matters how many times he loses. He reminds me of a spoiled brat.