Skip to comments.A Lawyer’s Tips on Negotiating for Dummies and Congressional Republicans
Posted on 12/06/2012 5:26:53 AM PST by Kaslin
Somewhere, theres a whiplash lawyer who runs his law office out of a van down by the river who watches the congressional Republicans attempt to negotiate the fiscal cliff crisis and has to turn his head away. John Boehner and his inept coterie of GOP establishment cronies have made every mistake in the book. Its professionally embarrassing.
Frankly, if these hacks were my associates, theyd be on a street corner with signs reading Will litigate for food.
Congress is famously full of lawyers, but what people dont understand is that it is really full of bad lawyers. Good lawyers tend not to want to take the pay cut. And the current crop of Republican leaders negotiate like bad lawyers do, which is great for President Obama. Hes giddy, and I know the feeling. When I face opponents like Boehners bunch at a mediation, I start checking out new 6-series convertibles on my iPhone.
A good negotiator, first and foremost, understands his clients goals. This seems pretty basic you want to know what the people you represent want to achieve by negotiating. However, this concept seems lost on the GOP.
Their clients the voters who elected them were pretty clear. No tax increases. Period. After all, not one Republican congressman was elected on a platform promising I will raise taxes in order to help Obama morph America into Greece. Well, maybe some of the ones from New England did, but thats beside the point.
The client doesnt want tax increases. This implies that the GOP should wait for it not support tax increases.
Naturally, the first thing the GOP does is roll over. Then to compound it, Lindsay and Saxby smarm up the Sunday morning talk shows with sanctimonious talk about how they are so patriotic that they are compelled to break their solemn pledge to their constituents never to raise taxes.
So, having not just discarded the clients intent, the congressional GOP then rubbed its clients collective nose in it. Theres nothing that sets you up for failure like setting your sights on a goal that, to your client, constitutes failure.
Besides knowing what the client wants and not utterly ignoring it the skilled negotiator next figures out what the other side wants. Negotiations are rarely just about the putative subject. In a lawsuit, sure theres money, but there is also often emotions anger, pride, and so forth. All of these play a role. And sometimes, there is another objective entirely.
Here, its pretty clear that Barack Obama is not merely trying to get the Republicans to raise taxes. Additional fuel for the bonfire consuming Americas culture of self-sufficiency is a sweet bonus, but he has his sights on something more.
Obama is trying to get the GOP to commit suicide so that it will be unable to oppose him. And the GOP is responding to this attempt to disembowel it by handing its enemy the figurative samurai sword.
Obama sees that the kind of betrayal the GOP Establishment is dying to pull off will split the party and ignite an internal struggle that would make the post-1968 Democratic convention convulsions seem like a group hug. Hes not negotiating to get something. Hes negotiating to do something, and we conservatives are the ones Obama wants it done to. Moreover, he wants the GOP Establishment to do it for him.
Now, when you understand what your client wants and what your opponent wants, you are ready to form your negotiating strategy. What the GOP Establishment fails to understand is that reacting is not a strategy. Whining that the liberal media is going to be mean to you if you stay true to your principles and to your word is not a strategy. Cursing Grover Norquist for allowing you to make a promise to your constituents about never raising taxes, which helped you get elected, is not a strategy either.
A strategy focuses you on your goal, which means the congressional Republicans have no strategy because they have no goal other than to make the hurting stop.
Yet the GOP actually has several aces in the hole the only reason they are taking the submissive role in the Fifty Shades of the Fiscal Cliff playing out before us is that they chose to assume it. Maybe Obama has a mandate, but so do they. They should be exercising it.
Their first step is to stop showing fear and to start counter-attacking. So America falls off the fiscal cliff? Who cares? Hell, a substantial number of the rich and sorta-rich are Democratic voters in blue states anyway. Let them put their money where their progressivism is. And if theres another recession, awesome. We call that a teachable moment for America about what happens when its president is a spendaholic who would rather campaign than lead.
What about those cuts to defense? Okay. Well live having only exponentially more military power than our nearest competitors. And if all else fails and the bad guys invade, as Red Dawn teaches, well just open up our gun safes and go all Wolverines on them.
Sound a bit, well, crazy? Unreasonable? Even scary? Good, because a skilled lawyer understands the awesome power of being the craziest, most unreasonable and scariest guy at the table. Obama is hanging tough only because he thinks he knows the congressional Republicans are dying to fold well before he pays any kind of price.
But what if the GOPs offer was a two-word response beginning with the letter F and what if they meant it? After all, the secret of being the unreasonable negotiator is that you cant be bluffing, that you have to be ready to pull the pin and take the whole table out with you. In other words, the Republicans ought to be telling the President Hey, Ill be Thelma and you can be Louise, and were pedal to the metal.
The GOP knows the worst case scenario rates on everyone go up and sequestration. All they have to do is be willing to take the hit for longer than Obama. The GOP has an advantage the liberal media will screw them no matter what they do. This gives them incredible freedom.
Go off the edge and then, after the mainstream media panics and David Brooks wets himself, pass a bill dropping all the rates back and send it over to Harry Reid. Now its the Democrats problem. Thirty-three senators have to run in 2014, around 20 of them Democrats. How many are going to want to vote No on dropping the rates back? As the election cycle begins, I estimate the number will shrink to roughly zero.
In other words, turn the tables on the Democrats. Split them. They have the most to lose, not the GOP. If the congressional GOP loses this fight, thats just a dog biting a man. But if Obama loses it, thats a man biting a dog.
This is the final lesson. A sharp lawyer takes a tough situation and turns it to his advantage, while a hack takes an advantage and turns it into a tough situation. With a little skill, the GOP could not only get what it wants tax-wise but also turn the tables, setting the Democrats at each others wattled throats and neutering Obama.
After all, isnt crushing progressive dreams really what the GOP should be all about?
All it takes is a little guts and some wiles. Come on congressional GOP make that whiplash lawyer proud.
Forget negotiating. Call their bluff.
Pass a bill for a real tax the wealthy tax and watch dingy harry and Obama fall all over themselves to explain their position.
Pass a bill to take 100% of accumulated wealth of any elected official greater than 5 million dollars.
The solution is for the House of Representatives to pass conservative legislation, including a drastic reduction in transfer payments, and eliminate Obamacare, send it to the Senate, and then just go home.
Every time a media person asks what the GOP is going to do about the financial mess, all they have to do is say the Senate has to do is vote on the legislation and get Obama to sign it.
Any legislation to increase the debt limit should be in very small increments, attached to additional conservative legislation.
It won’t take long for those sucking off the government teat to tell the Democrats to go ahead and pass the legislation.
That’s what a real negotiator would do. When it comes to financial matters, the House of Representatives hold all the cards. The Democrats did this for 40 years; the Republicans can do the same.
An extremely well-written article that describes EXACTLY what is happening here.
I would start off by naming any and all legislation regarding this matter “Child Enslavement Act” and force the President to sign any and all Budget and Debt Ceiling bills labeled as such. Because that is exactly what it is, this debt can NEVER be paid, all that matters is that we ENSLAVE our CHILDREN into paying interest to Bankers for eternity for the privilege of being an American.
Certainly the idea of representation is going to hell in a hand basket.
They dont have to raise taxes. The tax increases are automatic.
Such a stand would be suicide for Republicans: Not one Republican in the House won their election on refusing to extend middle class tax cuts unless they can force O to cave on the others which which he has no reason to do.
If it makes them feel better they can send Reid two bills one <=$250K and let him reject the ones extending >= $250K which he will do.
This session will end with the House extending the middle class tax cuts by themselves and little else, and they have no real choice in that.
House Republicans have never come out and said that they will never extend those rates unless they get O to sign a bill with other stuff in it. Its best just to put this behind them and move on to the next battle.
A suicidal stand on something they cant win or even defend now will make sure next years house opposes nothing.
“John Boehner and his inept coterie of GOP establishment cronies have made every mistake in the book.”
Maybe Boehner’s orchestrated a good strategy: (1) show that Republicans have tried to get a deal done including giving in some on raising revenue, (2) but don’t bend so far as to make a deal on Obama’s terms. Today we have (3): McConnell proposing to put Obama’s plan up for vote in the Senate and Reid objecting.
Now let’s let this thing go over the fiscal cliff. Republicans have an excellent case that they’re not to blame.
Bob Woodward said this yesterday:
This is the Obama era, it is [the presidents] economy, he said. Speaker Boehners an important player and this is significant, but it is Obamas job to lead and define so if there negative consequences here, particularly in the economy, it is going to be, In the Obama era, things didnt get fixed.
The GOP has an advantage the liberal media will screw them no matter what they do. This gives them incredible freedom.
Use it as a lever, on the principles of martial arts leverage.
His whole flawed standoff plan depends on a incorrect/faulty assumption : that Reid has to take up a vote on a bill the house sends them. For two years Reid ignored bills he doesnt like.
A while back the senate sent Bohner a bill extending tax cuts <$250K. Did that force Bohner to put that up for a vote? Bohner wont put that up till he wants it passed and has the votes.
Jeeze, maybe this this lawyer needs to go to chasing ambulances
Excellent piece. Public bookmark for me.
OK, smart guy; here's your chance to shine: Let's hear your Big Plan...
I appreciate you asking :)
Stop negotiating, and no passing tax increase bills in house
Pass the partial extension <$250K and send to Senate, if you like include another bill extending >$250K with it.
Get on TV and let voters know you (House Rs) saved (middle class) voters from a tax increase
Declare on TV the Obama crisis is over
Then daily Beg Obama (show for voters) ON TV to NOT raise taxes on job creators, tell voters you did everything your power to stop him from doing it and why it will be bad for this country. Dont worry, Voters will automatically give Obama credit for raising those taxes even though they are automatic, he cant get out of that if the economy slows.
Let everything else go over the cliff. No restored spending, no stimulus, no nothing (the debt limit will be another tough fight I wont get into here) .
You made your tax bed Dems. Blame every problem for the next 4 years on those Obama tax increases
Thanks again :)
Here’s one I pointed out a week ago or so,.
If Obama gets these taxes to go up (which he will as they are automatic) and for whatever reasons voters think the economy has improved in the next few years, for whatever reason (many things can happen), then Republicans are screwed.
This is what happened under Clinton.
But if the economy is still crap or gets worse than Republicans got an issue again.
I don't for-see anything happening like that in the near future.
Let’s see....what is the only part of this the Democrats have been talking about? Oh, yeah, the Middle Class tax cut. So we give them that. And then we try to take the credit? Yeah, the liberal media will do that.
Just so I can tune in - which media outlet is going to carry the Republican message to the voters. We should have tried this plan 4 years ago.
This is spot on. The only wrinkle to add — actually, it’s bigger than a wrinkle; more like the Alps — is that for this to work, the Republican caucus has to stick together. If 20 weak sisters go over the side, we lose.
To compound the problem, the liklihood of the weak sisters getting the willies increases exponentially if we go over the cliff, begin sequestration, get a government shutdown, etc. There will be those who will be tempted, just when the battle gets serious, to seize the opportunity to prove their bipartisan mettle by standing proudly against Party. And they know that they will be annointed Statesmen by the MSM. (Chris Shays used to live for moments like this.)
Fortunately, the Tea Party has had some success in instilling the fear of retribution. Selling out the side is more dangerous than it used to be. That’s all to the good.
But Boehner is still walking a tightrope. I am more inclined than many here to suspect that he is playing his cards correctly. He has to keep the caucus united. If he went fire and brimstone on Obama, which Obama deserves and which would gratify most of us, he would make it much easier for the RINOs to bolt. If he poses as Mr. Conciliation and tries really, really, really hard to go the extra mile for a deal, he makes it tougher.
This has nothing to do with public perception. It has everything to do with perception within the cloakroom. Is Boehner giving the weak sisters the cover they need back home? If we go off the cliff, they’re the ones we have to keep on board when things get ugly. Republicans will get pasted by the MSM early but will get stronger as time wears on. We can live a lot longer and happier with a lot less government than the dems can. But the weak sisters will be soiling themselves from the getgo, and Boehner has to keep them on board.
Worth repeating, do you think defense cuts are what is really scaring the R's and that is making them fold or is it the Georgetown parties they won't be invited to?
The alternative that this lawyer (who doesn't even know how congress passes bills) suggests is to have Republicans hold middle class tax cuts hostage to the the rich tax cuts, something none of them ever campaigned on specifically or promised specifically.
Then this crack-pot seems to assume that as the middle class tax cuts go up because Rs refuse to budge that the MSM will blame Obama for it.
That is idiotic and party suicide. If Bohner was crazy enough to do that that Rs would lose HUGE and then surrender anyway and it would be so humiliating that Rs would oppose nothing next year. They would be crushed.
So I say pass the middle class tax cuts and loudly take credit for it by saying you were never against it. Its really the ONLY option.
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