TPMDC and Think Progress both report the unsurprising news (I'll save you the trouble of posting that comment) that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he stands ready to cooperate with President Obama, "If the president is willing to do what I and my members would do anyway."
This is the guy with whom Democrats are reportedly negotiating a deal on very minor, very watered down
The proposed changes would limit the number of executive branch nominations subject to Senate confirmation; make it more difficult for senators to anonymously block legislation or nominees; and end a stall tactic that lets senators force clerks to read aloud the complete text of a bill if the measure has been made public.
The Senate leaders, Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Mitch McConnell, are expected to reach a gentlemen’s agreement that will let the GOP offer more amendments but limit filibustering on motions to begin debate.
I mentioned earlier some of the difficulties with approaching this informally and outside of the rules (and that's why I crossed out "rules" in the link above), the chief problem being that there is so far no indication that the agreement would be enforceable in any way. If the deal calls for Senate business to move forward, but Republicans later decide they don't want to honor it, the theory of the constitutional option says that the opportunity to change the rules using majority cloture has come and gone. (Yes, there's another theory under which something similar can be done, but there's even less enthusiasm for that idea.) That means the cost for Republicans of honoring the agreement once it's locked in, while minor, remains the same, while the cost of reneging on it goes to near zero. Ask a conservative what "efficient breach" theory says about that.
This, of course, is no position to be in when negotiating anything. And it's certainly not the way you should approach negotiations with someone who says this:
MCCONNELL: If the president is willing to do what I and my members would do anyway, we’re not going to say no and –
ALLEN: But that’s not much of a concession. That’s not bargaining, to just give you what you want.
MCCONNELL: Um, I like to think I’m a pretty good negotiator.
But hey, that's just sharp bargaining, right?
Then again, why bargain with McConnell at all?
We learned not long ago that having a deal with McConnell can be utterly meaningless, efficient breach theory aside:
What ever happened to the supposed deal for having four votes rather than two? Well, apparently that deal -- which would have included two Republican amendments that would have offered the choice of either a temporary or a permanent extension of all the cuts -- fell apart when a Republican objected to it at the last minute, leaving a surprised and embarrassed Mitch McConnell at the table empty-handed.
Still, wouldn't Republicans stick together in bargaining if the President and Congressional Democrats were willing to do what Republicans wanted anyway?
Well, apparently not. Like I just reminded you, when Senate Democrats last year offered the Republicans a chance to vote on amendments to temporarily or even permanently extend all the 2001 tax cuts, Republicans said no, just because doing so created aggravation and uncertainty for Democrats to deal with.
Look for more of the same in the future, particularly if Democrats "negotiate" away all their leverage in the first round, in talks with nominal Republican Leader McConnell. That'll leave them with less than nothing when de facto Republican Leader DeMint takes his turn and ponders his veto.