On the one hand Joe Klein, whom I strongly suspect has never negotiated anything in his entire life, possibly including his own salary, says that asking for the moon in your opening offer is the way negotiation is done:
The Republicans are, reportedly, outraged by President Obama’s opening bid in the fiscal cliff talks. Republicans always seem to be outraged. It’s getting boring. They need to step up and make a counter-offer.
That’s how people negotiate. In this case, they need to be specific about the spending cuts they want. When their specific initial offer is on the table, then you can haggle. (Of course, it’s entirely possible that all this is a smokescreen and actual haggling is taking place privately, between John Boehner and the President.)
I agree with him that the Congressional Republicans should get specific. I disagree that what’s happening is how people negotiate. It’s how unprincipled people negotiate.
Alana Goodman, on the other hand sees it differently:
Presenting a ridiculous first offer — especially after Republicans indicated they were willing to compromise on tax revenues — is not the way to kick off the process. It is the way to insult the recipient, create an adversarial environment, advertise your lack of seriousness, and potentially shut down any hope of reaching a deal acceptable to both sides.
That’s the way to negotiate if your objective is both to ensure you get what you want and to ensure that the other guy doesn’t get anything.
I’d like to see the best possible deal negotiated with the greatest possible likelihood of future agreements. Does what’s happening look to you like the way to accomplish that?