Diary

The First Rule of Negotiating...Don't Negotiate Against Yourself

Has anyone other than myself noticed recently that the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives has a new talking point.  I keep hearing from Speaker Boehner and many other Republican Congressman the following whine: “we only control one-half of one-third of the government.”  As recently as last night, I heard it uttered by one of the House freshman on Sean Hannity’s show.  Yes, technically, it is true.  But, they don’t need to keep repeating it.  By repeating it to themselves and others, they are playing down the strength of their position in the budget negotiations.  Perhaps they need a refresher course in negotiating skills.  The first rule of negotiating is “Don’t negotiate against yourself.”  Don’t play down the strength of your position.  And certainly do not provide rationalizations for your defeat before you have even completed the negotiation.  But, perhaps they also need a refresher course in American constitutional law.  While it is true that the House Republicans “only control one-half of one-third of the government,” the consent of the House (by a majority vote) is a necessary condition to enacting any legislation.  In addition, with respect to spending bills, they go first.  If they don’t first authorize the spending, then not a single dollar can be spent.  Perhaps they need a refresher course in the difference between “necessary conditions” and “sufficient conditions.”  While a majority of the House is not “sufficient” to get a law passed, it is “necessary.”  Therefore, their negotiating position as a matter of constitutional law is unassailable.  The politics may be a different matter.  Although, I would argue they are closer to the majority of the American people than their opponents.  So, a note to House Republicans, if you’re serious about winning the budget and debt ceiling battles, stop with the whining that “we only control one-half of one-third of the government.”