The Art of Negotiating

To hear Harry Reid tell it, Republicans are having a tough time taking “yes” for an answer. While that may be true, the reason for that is because Democrats have historically had a hard time saying “no.”

By agreeing to sequester spending levels in the CR – levels, mind you, that were significantly lower than many of them wanted and the President himself called for – Senate Democrats ceded valuable leverage in what has turned out to be a nasty and protracted government shutdown.

Yes, GOP demands that Obamacare be defunded or delayed are doomed to failure; everyone knows this, including many Republicans. The problem for the Democrats is that, in order to arrive at an end to the shutdown and the raising of the debt ceiling, Democrats will probably have to agree to yet more fiscal concessions. Maybe not immediately, but certainly down the road.

Don’t be surprised if Obama and Reid borrow a page from the Cuban missile crisis. As we all know, in return for Khrushchev pulling his missiles from Cuba, Kennedy privately agreed to pull U.S. missiles from Turkey. If Boehner agrees to let a clean CR get an up and down vote and allows a debt ceiling increase through, say, the end of 2014, he would privately get assurances of additional spending cuts in the next budget, maybe even the Keystone pipeline.

In other words, by being the adults in the room and seeking a middle ground they thought everyone could live with, Democrats have shot themselves in the foot once more. They will end up preserving the President’s healthcare law intact, but it will come with a price tag elsewhere. So much for being the nice and reasonable guy.

Yes, Boehner is a terrible Speaker who has boxed himself into a corner, and, yes, the Republican Party has gone completely off the rails. But, mark my words, before this fiasco is over, he and his band of merry men will end up getting something out of this. They always manage to. And, for that, Democrats can only blame themselves.


Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.

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