Threatening To Destroy America Is No Way To Negotiate

Yglesias makes an apt analogy regarding negotiation with the GOP:

The whole reason Obama neither will nor can negotiate with John Boehner is that Boehner has the equivalent of the The Bomb. He’s threatening the destruction of the American financial system unless Obama implements policies that he favors. The government of Iran doesn’t have the power to make a similar threat, but the government of Russia does. Vladimir Putin could hold a press conference tomorrow and say that nuclear-armed ballistic missiles will destroy Houston, Chicago, and Indianapolis tomorrow unless Obama agrees to his list of demands.

Would it be reasonable for Obama to open a negotiation on those terms? Of course not! The content of the demands isn’t even relevant. The threat is too crazy to indulge.

Ezra weighs in:

If the Republicans just wanted negotiations, the Obama administration would be happy to oblige them.

The White House, after all, has repeatedly said they’re willing to negotiate with the Republicans over the deficit, over jobs, over sequestration, and much else. Republicans haven’t been interested in those kinds of negotiations for some time. Indeed, after the fiscal cliff, Speaker John Boehner told Republicans that he was finished negotiating directly with Obama.

The reason Republicans aren’t interested in those negotiations is they don’t want to give anything up to get the things they want. That’s why they like negotiating over the debt ceiling: Since they also don’t want the the U.S. to lose its creditworthiness and fall back into financial crisis, raising the debt ceiling is not actually giving anything up. It’s releasing a hostage they never wanted to shoot.

Norman Ornstein argues that there “is one area where Obama could and should be willing to negotiate with Republicans—to take the default option, the full faith and credit of the United States, off the table permanently”:

Institutionalizing the McConnell Rule [which allowed the president to unilaterally extend the debt limit in 2011] would be valuable enough that it should extract some real concessions from the president to achieve it. Of course, those concessions would not include any delays in the core parts of the Affordable Care Act. Mitt Romney himself made it clear what a one year delay in the individual mandate was all about, when he said to CNN on Friday, “I think there’s a better way of getting rid of Obamacare—my own view—and that is, one, delaying it by at least a year.” But there are compromises on Obamacare that make more sense. Ending the employer mandate in Obamacare, now only postponed for a year and never either an essential part of health reform nor a good idea, would be one chip to give up. Agreeing to some malpractice reform, if it aimed at reducing defensive medicine, might be another. I could even see throwing in the Keystone pipeline to get this kind of outcome.

Cowen thinks a smaller, attainable victory for the GOP would be good politics:

The GOP, from its budget strategies, might manage to repeal the medical devices tax.  Repealing a tax, and chipping away at ACA, is in this setting a major victory for them, especially given that right now they are not winning so many victories.  It doesn’t matter so much that the medical device tax repeal would be relatively small in its impact.  “We forced the repeal of one part of Obamacare” is a big symbolic victory.