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What Is There To "Negotiate?"

By The Reverend Published: September 30, 2013

Negotiate....1) 'try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others.' "his government's willingness to negotiate". 2) find a way over or through (an obstacle or difficult path)."there was a puddle to be negotiated"

The communication rascals are claiming this morning that President Obama is willing to "negotiate" with Iran's new president but not with John Boehner. Obama, these rascals insist, negotiates with Vlad Putin, but is unwilling to do so with the GOP Speaker. Why won't President Obama negotiate with Leaders in his own country....when he is always willing to "negotiate" with shadowy, cunning and untrustworthy foreign leaders?

Now, I enjoy a well-executed misdirection play as much as the next guy and so I can appreciate the Palinesque-word-salad attempts by take-our-country-back conservatives to provide media stenographers with "both sides do it" talking points. Republicans tell media stenographers that Obama won't "negotiate".....the stenographers write that down. The President and Senate Democrats tell media stenographers they are not "negotiating" over continuing to fund government or defaulting on the debt.....stenographers write that down.

Then, these 4th columnist the first paragraph of their "reporting" on the "ongoing standoff" over the CR and the debt ceiling.....start off by writing that "neither side is willing to negotiate to reach an agreement." Often, the word "concessions" is used, as in...."neither side is willing to offer concessions."

What are the issues needing immediate solving by Congress? What do the deadlines of October 1st and October 17th represent? Midnight tonight, funding to keep the federal government open and operational....runs out. On, or around, October 17th the nation's credit limit will be maxed out.

Keep the federal government from closing....and keep the nation from defaulting on debt obligations. Those are the objectives which both Republicans and Democrats say need resolved. Both "sides" agree that shutting down the government and/or defaulting on the debt are unacceptable outcomes. Avoiding shutting down the federal government and avoiding the goal...of both "sides." In other words, the goal is identical for both "sides"....there is no disagreement over the desired end.

If both "sides" are in agreement over the end game.....tell me, what is there to "negotiate?" How does.... "try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others"....apply when both "sides" have agreed from the beginning that their desired goals are identical? Keep government open and keep paying our bills.

The same applies to the use of the word "concessions." Republicans say they want to keep government open, Democrats agree. Democrats say we cannot default on our debt, Republicans agree. What in the heck is there for one side or the other to "concede?"

Ezra Klein explains it this way...

Imagine that Putin stepped forward tomorrow morning and announced that Russia had developed a computer virus that would shut down the market for U.S. Treasuries and that he would release that virus unless Obama agreed to a list of Russian demands.

No one would say Russia was asking for negotiations with Obama. They would say Russia was holding the U.S. economy hostage and demanding that Obama pay a ransom. No Republican -- and no Democrat -- would advice Obama to take that meeting.

Anyone disagree with that line of thinking? And, in Klein's hypothetical, wouldn't Putin refer to his computer virus threat as...."leverage".....just like my blog bud King did with this yesterday...."These CR and debt ceiling votes are the only leverage they (Republicans) have." The word "leverage" here is interchangeable with the word "threat."

Giving us, in the case of Klein's hypo.....Putin appealed to his "leverage"....."releasing the virus".....or, 'Putin threatened to blow up the bond market if his demands are not met.'

The Village has taken to stenographically writing down the word "leverage" instead of "threat" because that's what Republicans tell them to write down.....and the 50 cent word "leverage" is prettier sounding for Republicans than, you know, "threat." Mustn't take sides while working as a understand.

What "leverage" is King referring to when he says Republicans have to use the "leverage" they have? Isn't the answer.... the prospect of closing down the federal government and defaulting on the debt? And, how is that "leverage" not a threat just like the one Putin makes in Klein's hypothetical?

So, if both Republicans and Democrats would comprehend Klein's hypothetical Putin "leverage" as a ransom demand threat and not the basis for a legitimate "negotiation" could Republican "leverage" (the threat of default, economic chaos and government closure) be comprehended any differently?

Truth is, there isn't anything to "negotiate." There isn't anything that needs "leveraging." Yeah, Republicans and Democrats have many policy differences....but on keeping the government open and not defaulting on the debt.....both sides say they seek the same outcome. Passing a "clean" CR and a "clean" debt limit increase would guarantee the outcome both sides say they're after.

Why, then, aren't the CR and the debt ceiling increase already behind us....and Congress moved on to other important issues like immigration reform and so forth?

Deja-vu Mitch McConnell provides us with the answer.....

“I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done.”

Mitch makes in simple for us. Because, despite media's penchant for using words like "negotiation" and "leverage", as they dutifully conduct their stenography work, Republicans are not "negotiating", they're not using "leverage"....they are holding the federal government and the credit status of the United States of America as "hostages...worth ransoming."

Straight from the horse's (or, turtle's) mouth. Nothing deep and mysterious about any of it. Republicans are in the minority, they despise their status, they have an angry, angry base of voters who consider President Obama and the Democratic Senate illegitimate...and they are willing to do ANYTHING to placate their base.

Including "taking a hostage worth ransoming".

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