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Marty LatzShare, a professor of negotiation theory, suggests that Democrats reframe our narrative and improve our bargaining power by redefining the 'Fiscal cliff' just a hill we can jump off, and thinks our president will get "the best 'grand bargain' if he first gains control of the agenda and narrative, then automatically achieves tax hikes on the wealthiest, on Jan. 1, then waits until 2013 to close a deal, when Democrats have a stronger position in the congress, and he can use the bully pulpit.

With the Bush tax extensions behind us, we move out of the adversarial position over "tax hikes for the rich," and instead can focus on the mutual interest of a tax cut for the middle class and closing loopholes where our positioning is much more powerful and conducive to compromise in real mutual interest.    

Dear Mr.President:  Let me be frank -- you are losing leverage each day you negotiate with the Republicans on the budget without publicly reframing the fiscal cliff as a flexible deadline that can pass without serious ramification.

The campaign has been over for a week and you appear to be already losing control over the negotiating agenda. How? By seemingly accepting the narrative that the fiscal cliff is a hard deadline that on January 1 will throw our economy into a tailspin.
As you know, this is not true. The Bush tax cuts will expire and sequestration will go into effect only starting on January 1. Employers will not suddenly fire workers if there is no budget deal by then. ...

How? Use your bully pulpit to promote this as a fiscal "hill" with a gradual impact on the economy, not a "cliff" with a precipitous economic drop on January 1. This will ameliorate any negative impact on January 1 and give you and the new Congress time to work out your "grand bargain."

Our position will then be stronger because, first, we will have more Democratic senators and representatives, and second, we will have achieved one of our most important objectives automatically, on January 1, when the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest expire automatically - we do not need to make any concession to achieve this.  

At that point, if the President uses his bully pulpit effectively, we then have enormous bargaining power to invite the GOP to agree with us on passing the Bush tax extensions for the middle class - something they will be under enormous pressure to do without any concessions. (And, I might add only to strengthen the point, imagine this as something on its own, might be considered part of a GOP tax cut agenda w might be asking what concession they will they give us to accept.)

Latzshare reminds us that former President Ronald Reagan set the tone for the remainder of his term by taking a hardline with air traffic controllers.  

11:03 AM PT: I should add that as long as Democrats have something like this firmly in mind as our "best alternative to a negotiated outcome," or BATNA I suspect Republicans will be eager to avoid even a "fiscal hill" which does also have danger for impacting consumer confidence.

My primary goal in posting this is to bolster the strength of our position and encourage our negotiators from making a once in a generation level strategic blunder of agreeing to the reduced cost-of-living formula or other cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and government pensions, which will be severely damaging to our hard fought Democratic unity.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 10:15:39 AM PST

  •  Once the 'Bush' tax exemptions pass (4+ / 0-)

    all their tax breaks r belong to us ☺

    Pass the Obama 'Fair Tax Act. '

  •  Not all illusion is from the other side.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Obamacare can only be fiscally possible with a revolution in the entire approach to treatment, described well in Topol's book "Creative Destruction in Medicine.'

    Unless he takes on this vast challenge, which means revising 15% of the American economy based on professional and corporate power, Obamacare will not work!  And the cost will truly be unsustainable.

    This is the real revolution that must occur, so there will be no more need for what I described here:
    Tea Party Democrat in tight Congressional Win

  •  To provide cover for those who still have to seek (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb, HoundDog, Cordyc

    reelection in his party, Obama has to at least go through the motions of trying to avert the "Fiscal Cliff". Sure, most economists agree it's not as much a cliff as a hill but if they're wrong and we go back into recession, if Democrats take the stance that we just wait, they'll get fully blamed for this. We have time on our side on this one, there simply isn't enough time for our tortoise paced Congress to achieve any "Grand Bargain" and Obama has been very adamant he won't sign any legislation that keeps tax rates on the rich where they are. Period. I believe him this time, especially since he has reiterated his line in the sand at least 4 or 5 times since the election.

    Let's not let 2014 be anything like 2010. Republicans only win when we stay home!

    by Tim D M on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 10:37:45 AM PST

    •  Obama needs a sharp break from campaign mode... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nailbanger, Old Surgeon

      to governing mode.  This has to be in tone as well as content.   This means acknowledging his own myths, such as Obamacare will be affordable.  The projections were distorted, as I wrote about in dozens of diaries when the bill was debated.

      But it is now law, and vast changes must accompany it, such as what the republicans call "death panels."   We should call it "cost benefit analysis" while allowing the ultra rich, once they pay their full taxes to keep themselves alive for decades if they can foot the bill.

      Thinking that Dems are pure, honest and constrained by reality won't bridge the culture gap, or the fiscal cliff.  If you need an example look at this about anewly minted Tea Party Democrat.

      This web site is the essence of "campaign mode" which is fine for Dailykos, but won't begin to solve the problems of our country.

  •  Let the fiscal "cliff" deadline pass. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cordyc, HoundDog

    Then negotiate tax cuts for all but the highest 2%.  Restore the cuts to Defense as the part of the deal the Republicans get and leave social spending alone.

    You don't cut spending during a recovery!

    You rarely find a story that says two stoners beat each other up outside of a bar.

    by jparnell on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 11:07:11 AM PST

  •  The media is setrting this narrative. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cordyc, HoundDog

    We won't be able to change it because all media has been running with this cataclismic event since the election. CNBC may lose every host to aneurisms from the fiscal cliff.

    Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

    by Mike S on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 11:17:20 AM PST

    •  We can change media, look at how Earned (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ubertar, HoundDog

      Benefits is now part of the discussion.  We must remind everyone, all the time, that Social Security and Medicare are Earned Benefits.

      Same with the Fiscal Hump.  Let's make the R's look like they are crying wolf about a cliff that is really just a little hump to get over.

      Congressional elections have consequences!

      by Cordyc on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 12:07:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A good view... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Comes from Paul Krugman, who suggests calling it the 'Austerity Bomb', instead of the fiscal cliff.

    It's very clear that the stimulus helped a great deal, and that cutting back on (stimulative) spending is a bad idea (that Europe has taken to heart, with concomitant consequences).

    Some graphs and charts and four-color glossy photos make this clear: here and here.

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