I keep hearing about how smart and tough the President and Congressional leaders are, but I don’t see it.
- Reid Criticizes Cantor as Debt Talks Stall:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) “has shown that he shouldn’t even be at the table” in negotiations over raising the U.S. borrowing limit, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said Thursday, reflecting Democratic frustration with House Republican conservatives in the continuing battle over talks to raise the debt ceiling and cut the deficit.
Gentlemen, Cantor is at the table for the same reason that Biden was in the White House negotiations: It’s called the “Appeal to Higher Authority” tactic. You send an underling to the negotiations, like Biden and Cantor instead of Obama and Boehner. They get the best deal they can, but you can later ask for more, “because the boss won’t go for it”. Ever heard that one at the car lot? From Negotiating Dynamics we read:
The essence of authority limits is that the negotiator lacks the authority to conclude a final agreement – or claims that he or she lacks that authority. In fact, there are three possibilities. (1) the negotiator really does lack authority and will have to bring the proposed agreement back to the individual or group with the final authority, (2) the negotiator states that their authority is limited when in fact they could conclude the proposed agreement, or (3) the negotiator technically lacks the authority but knows that in all probability the “higher authority” will approve their recommendations.
- From the same article, at the end:
“Eric, don’t call my bluff,” Mr. Obama said, according to Mr. Cantor. Mr. Cantor said that of the spending cuts on the table, congressional Democrats had agreed to less than $1.4 trillion over 10 years.
It’s not a bluff anymore if you tell us it’s a bluff, fool.
- Cuts that aren’t cuts: From Roll Call:
In the nearly two-hour-long White House meeting Monday afternoon during which leaders reviewed savings found last month by a group led by Vice President Joseph Biden, McConnell asked only one question, according to a Republican source familiar with the talks.
“How much does the Biden plan actually cut from next year’s discretionary spending budget?” the Kentucky Republican asked the room.
Obama’s Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew told him, “$2 billion.”
A second source close to the original Biden group confirmed this number.
McConnell grew frustrated in the closed-door meeting, complaining that such a sum was too small, given the scale of the savings Members on both sides of the aisle were hoping for. McConnell’s displeasure spilled over to the Senate floor Tuesday morning, when he attacked Obama for presenting Republicans with “gimmicks” instead of solutions.
“The hope here was that budget gimmicks and deferred decision-making they actually support would have the appearance of serious belt-tightening. But the practical effect would have been, at most, about a couple of billion dollars in cuts up front with empty promises of more to follow,” McConnell said early Tuesday morning.
“President has presented us with three choices: smoke and mirrors, tax hikes, or default. Republicans choose none of the above,” he continued.
If the Republicans can’t paint the president as incompetent in the face of this madness, they deserve their fate.