Friday, January 23, 2009

We've seen this before

Democrats compromise before the negotiations even begin. Republicans stomp their feet. Democrats compromise even more. Republicans still stomp their feet. After several iterations the result is a mess guaranteed to be hated by everyone and to solve nothing.

Now, I understand the desire for comity. I understand the desire to get as many people on board, especially on the big things like a near $900 billion stimulus bill. I don't even think a pre-negotiation compromise is necessarily a bad thing if it is designed to show good will towards a significant opposition.

What I don't like is the Democrats failure to understand the next step they should take in the negotiation process: when the Republicans stomp their feet, take back the initial compromise. Republicans drag their feet in these things because they know the Democrats will never make them pay a price for it (e.g., Harry Reid never forcing the Republican Minority to actually filibuster a bill).

Obama gave me an inkling of hope on the stimulus bill when, against character, he actually shifted the bill to the left after his initial proposal came out. My hope is that he understands the principle described above and will get the Democrats in Congress to go along with it.

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