From the Washington Post, the voice of the conventional wisdom, Eugene Robinson says what I suspect is becoming that conventional wisdom:
What I really hate about the sequester is the way it confirms the conventional wisdom that “both sides are wrong.” This is usually the kind of lazy pseudoanalysis that drives me up the wall. But it took both Obama and the Republicans to get us into this mess — and nobody has a clue how to get us out of it.
How big a distance is it between hating something because it’s false or lazy and hating it because it’s true?
I think we need to recall that representatives in the House are elected by district, senators are elected by the voters of a state, and the president is elected at large. What are you asking for if you demand that House members do something other than what their constituents elected them to do? If you demand greater statesmanship of them, doesn’t that impose an obligation to show greater statesmanship yourself?
What do I think should be done? My opinion is that the folk Keynesian ship sailed long, long ago. Four years ago. The short term has become the long term and we should be debating the structural changes we need to make that are necessary for robust growth and putting people back to work. This is incredibly likely because the Powers That Be are virtually by definition completely committed to Things As They Are.
To shamelessly steal the words of Alex Knapp in a now long ago comment, I would like to “associate myself completely with the sentiments of (Dave) in this post.”
This isn’t a simple “a pox on both houses.” Obama’s stock in trade is to demagogue every issue while showing zero leadership or tendency to compromise with the needs of duly elected representative’s needs in mind (because its politically exposing and he’s the “I vote present” King – what did anyone expect??) and because he can – the media is in his pocket and will run air cover.
This is not a defense of the Republicans. Its just an acknowledgement that the left simply can’t seem to get their heads around: when the president plays you for fools time after time and negotiates in bad faith you finally have to call bullshit. Republicans have constituants too.
I negotiate for a living. Along with business/management/investment analysis, its the core competancy for what I do. I’ve seen dozens of Obama’s. Win-lose negotiators. Brats, really. Many times I’ve either precipitated a negotiating crisis or walked from a deal when I have evidence of a bad faith negotiator. You will get your head handed to you and a bad deal for your constituents if you are not willing to do it.
It takes resolve, but its amazing how the other side finally decides they are overplaying their hand, or later regrets taking the best deal they were going to get. Unfortunately, a business deal is small potatos compared to big time public policy. We could use a better person in the big seat.
I think a bit of negotiating terminology might be in order: “Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement (BATNA)”
Obama didn’t offer anything to the Republicans that was better than the sequester, Republicans prefer cuts to defense to another tax increase and they suspect they might be able to ameliorate the most nonsensical cuts with future legislation. Also, the process of talking down the economy meant that some of the adverse economic consequences were already occurring, and since the Administration blamed the Republicans for an economic downturn last quarter under similar circumstances, the Republicans will be damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
AFAIK the Republicans only offered Obama the opportunity to ameliorate the harshness of the cuts (or move the cuts from defense to domestic), but that would leave Obama with all of the blame and harming his priorities at the expense of Republican priorities. It would appear that the Administration decided that a sequester was preferable to (a) agreeing to cuts without additional revenues, or (b) permitting the Republicans to escape blame for a soft economy.
I think we need to recall that representatives in the House are elected by district, senators are elected by the voters of a state, and the president is elected at large. What are you asking for if you demand that House members do something other than what their constituents elected them to do?
This comment has been raised in other social media venues as well — reminding people that the House has it’s own constituents to consider in their policy creations and voting considerations. The separate legs of government was originally devised this way to provide a process of checks and balances in order to avert destructive herd or demagogical thinking.
In other words, the best kind of consensus is best derived by honest, even contentious discussion between differing factions, usually resulting in a meeting of the minds somewhere in the middle of what each party wants. Obama keeps saying that he has already advocated for a ‘balanced’ approach for years. But, this is simply not the case. In his world his policies revolve around demanding more taxes from a few, followed by a tricky translation of stats, when referring to any spending cuts given, while the size and scope of government is the only thing that truly mushrooms and grows.
Republicans prefer cuts to defense to another tax increase and they suspect they might be able to ameliorate the most nonsensical cuts with future legislation.
Supposedly the Republican House is writing legislation that will add some flexibility to some of the cuts, probably in the military. It remains to be seen how the Senate will handle this, or if the president will sign the bill, should it pass that obstacle and land on his desk.