How Not to Negotiate

From where I'm sitting, the Democrats have been more than reasonable on this one. Obama's been offering major cutbacks in government spending practically since Day One of the debate over the federal debt limit. I would almost say "too reasonable", considering how extensive those cuts are, but I guess I had nothing to worry about, since the Republicans in the House don't seem to be interested. Seems strange to me, really. They're getting a lot of things that they wanted, right? Cutbacks in entitlement programs and all. What was the number...? Right, $4 trillion. Even for our debt, that's a lot.

Oh that's right, the plan includes increases in revenue as well. Oops! Non-starter. No new taxes, right? I mean, I guess making students pay more for their student loans is perfectly fine (and coming from a student with federal loans, there's a nice, personal "fuck off" to be said to Cantor for that one!), but even closing loopholes in the tax code is just going too far!

Hint: Insisting that you get everything you want is a really bad way to negotiate. The Democrats have bent over backwards (as I suggested earlier, almost gone too far) to create a deal that will actually work on reducing the deficit. And the Republicans have refused it.

You know what? That's fine. To the Republican majority in the House: Enjoy your decision time. If you want to hold to your anti-tax dogma, you may not be able to raise the debt ceiling. Even Obama, who has not been known for taking stands, has drawn a line on this one.

Just remember, this is what will happen if you take that route: the cutting off of payment for things like Social Security, veterans pensions and disability benefits, and federal salaries and benefits. So we're looking at tens of millions of people who suddenly have no source of income, who rely on things like disability benefits or federal paychecks to have money for food.

My only fear right now? Is that the Republicans would actually decide to threaten the very lives of tens of millions of Americans, rather than accept a reasonable (unreasonably generous, even!) deal that violates their anti-tax dogma. The consequences for the 2012 election would be cold comfort then, amidst an ever-deepening spiral of destruction.

It would be the only comfort left, though: that there will be consequences. The American people are watching. We'll know who's responsible if that scenario comes to pass.

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