I'm happy John Boehner's "Plan B" approach on the fiscal cliff was shot down by his fellow House Republicans. Now we're back to zero, pretty much, which is a good place for Obama to be.
Progressives have been increasingly irritated at Obama for doing what he said he wouldn't: negotiate with himself. Like Obama said, he's come more than halfway in his talks with Boehner.
Republicans like to forget that Obama campaigned for re-election on letting taxes go up on the richest 2% of Americans, those couples making more than $250,000 a year. The remaining 98%, which includes 97% of small businesses, would have their taxes remain the same.
Unfortunately, Obama slid away from this position in an effort to strike a deal with Republicans. I believe his last offer to Boehner was to only let taxes go up on couples making $400,000 or more, rather than $250,000.
Now Obama apparently is back to the $250,000 level. Along with extending unemployment benefits and dealing with the sequester thing. Spending reductions and entitlement reform would wait for another day.
There's no point in negotiating with people who hold onto a non-negotiable position. I've been thinking about this in the light of usual negotiating styles, like when dickering is going on about the price of a car.
The buyer and seller assume that each wants the same thing: to arrive at a fair sales price, to sell the car. But with the extreme House Republicans, and maybe the majority of all Congressional Republicans, this isn't the case.
They are committed to rigid ideologies, not to a common goal -- like improving economic conditions, reducing the deficit, or strengthening the middle class.
Instead, most Republicans have sworn an oath to never raise taxes on anybody. This is akin to the NRA oath of never restricting gun ownership. And the oath of Christian fundamentalists to never doubt the veracity of the Bible.
Psychological research has shown that conservatives are more prone to rigid right-wrong thinking than progressives. They have a need to clutch the security blanket of certainty, even when they don't have good reasons to believe they're correct.
Negotiating with these sorts of people is like trying to sell a car to someone who doesn't really want to buy a car. He's just pretending that he does.
House Republicans rejected Boehner's proposal to raise taxes on 0.2% of the richest Americans, those making $1 million or more a year. That's point two percent, not two percent, point two. One freaking fifth of a percent, and the no-tax nuts said "No!"
Because they're wedded to No Tax Increases Ever, an eleventh commandment for most Republicans. Crazy. It isn't possible to negotiate with crazy people. Obama shouldn't even try.
There's no longer any reason to take Republicans seriously. They aren't interested in solving this country's problems, just in hanging on to their personal rigid dogmas.
If they are OK with taxes going up on 98% of Americans, let the GOP live with that. If they are OK with the United States defaulting on its debt, creating economic catastrophe, let the GOP live with that.
You break it; you bought it. The GOP needs to own the consequences of its inflexibility.
Taxes are going to go up on 98% of Americans on January 1. Obama and the Democrats want that tax increase stopped before the year ends. He keeps asking Republicans to lower taxes for the vast majority of Americans, something the GOP supposedly is in favor of.
If Republicans do nothing before January 1, taxes will go up. Guaranteed. That's how the law was written by George Bush and Republicans. No excuses. No action by the end of the year, the GOP owns a huge tax increase.
Same deal with the upcoming raising of the debt ceiling.
As I noted in a recent blog post, until the Tea Party crazies got into Congress, raising the debt ceiling used to be virtually automatic. After all, all this does is enable the United States to pay what it owes, what Congress has agreed to spend. It has nothing to do with the deficit or future spending.
So if the GOP doesn't want to increase the debt ceiling fine. See what the consequences for this country's credit rating is, and how this affects the economy. If Republicans think it's a great idea for the United States to default on some of its obligations, go for it.
Again, you break it, you own it. That's how you negotiate with someone who is inflexible. Make them own the consequences of their rigidity.