Saturday, December 1, 2012

Screw the "greater good"

That appears to be the position of the leadership of both parties. Neither party wants to risk the blame for the pain of budget cuts, so they're both saying "You first." 
  • The GOP is essentially making the same proposal that they did throughout 2011, but with a little more tax collected from high earners. For this paltry sacrifice, they want all their proposed spending cuts from the Ryan budget enacted.
  • The Dems want the top rate to rise, partially to humiliate the GOP with their tax pledges. When it comes to additional spending cuts, the Dems are making the paltry offerings.
It looks like without a presidential election to force them into good behavior, our politicians revert to spoiled partisan children. They want what they want, and the other guys will just have to give in.

Look at last year. A 2% tax increase was at stake, and the GOP caved after trying to get concessions for 2 months. Now a 4% tax increase is looming, but neither side is willing to bargain. Perhaps the threat needs to be bigger, like a full government shutdown, before these bitter opponents stop grandstanding.

By the way, I'm not talking about just the GOP. The Dem offer is at the same level of blind stubbornness as the GOP position is. Did we just reelect this brats? I'm afraid so.

 Man the trenches!
Image: wattwork.

Extras. The Ryan budget cuts: broadly outlined without specifics (p.64). A thumb guide to the stages of negotiations.


Anonymous said...

You're intelligent, MP, but inexperienced, like Kahn in his starship battle with Capt. Kirk in Star Trek II.

The point of taking positions in both litigation and negotiations is not "blind stuboornness", as you describe the Dem offer. It's either to get the deciders -- like a jury or voters -- to agree with your position and give you a favorable verdict, or to get the other side to recognize that you have the better hand and that they should move toward your position or risk ending up with a less favorable deal in the end.

The Democrats clearly have a stronger position, having just stomped the GOP in the election. It wasn't a clean sweep, but the facts on the ground favor them waiting to get what they think is for the "greater good". Certainly, caving or even offering a good deal for the GOP, which the Dems don't think is in the greater good's interest, is to forfeit the negotiating advantage the voters gave them. This is the lesson Obama and the Dems have finally learned.

The GOP knows this game better and always use their leverage to maximum advantage. They have none now, much less some sort of appeal to the "greater good". The GOP has shown they'd rather have their way -- because they say it's better for everyone but actually only care that it's good for them and their benefactors -- so offering the ultimate compromise position only emboldens them.

This time around, the GOP has to move their position FIRST and substantially. That's the only way a universally agreed compromise for the greater good can happen.

Here's the true "greater good" order:

1) Tax increases on the wealthy, BOTH higher rates and reduced loopholes and deductions.
2) Cuts in unnecessary programs concurrent with defense cuts.
3) Changes in entitlement programs, most impacting the wealthy.
4) Small tax increases on the upper middle class. ($150K - $250K)
5) Additional defense and minor entitlement cuts.
6) Small tax increase on the wealthy and middle class ($75K - $150K)

You see, you tackle the progressively more politically-charged items last to demonstrate that the other measures alone can't get the fiscal house in order. Skip a step and one side or the other can and will demagog the issue to reverse any progress and then ENSURE that the voters don't forget who to support.

ModeratePoli said...

@Anon, guilty as charged. I didn't recognize that this was just the prologue to the negotiation. I will endeavor to do better next time, sir!