Negotiating

Speaking for myself only.

Ezra Klein made a really good point in his Washington Post blog the other day:

On page 116 of “The Promise,” Jonathan Alter describes President Obama’s approach to the stimulus as “bad poker.” “Instead of holding his cards close, and then sweetening the pot for Republicans with tax cuts in the final negotiations, [Obama] offered nearly $300 billion in tax cuts at the front-end of the process. … It was a big bargaining chip left off the table.”

Obama has since admitted as much. “It might have been better for us not to include tax cuts in the original package, let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts, and then say, O.K., you know, we’ll compromise and give you your tax cuts,” he told Peter Baker. So why does he keep including the tax cuts?

Politicker‘s Freedlander quotes Anthony Weiner on a related point:

“I think that President Obama sees bipartisanship as an ends rather than a means,” he said. “We have kind of now seen for the last couple of years the Republicans see rank partisanship as a successful tactic. I may want there to be such a thing as a unicorn but it doesn’t mean I build my day around finding one.”

We have to stop simply announcing at the outset that we’ll meet the Republicans half-way and then being caught flat-footed when they want the other half too. If we’re going to compromise — if we’re going to negotiate — then we have to do it for real.

Our leadership in Washington needs to get better at this, and they need to get better quick.