It’s time for someone in the White House to hire a teacher to give everyone in the administration a lesson in remedial negotiation 101 . The actual budget issues aside, this statement from a press briefing with Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling is some of the most pathetic public negotiating I’ve seen.
MR. SPERLING: $40.8 billion — that was $40.8 billion. So when the CR — the CR itself moved — the March 4 CR moved $40.8 billion towards where the — towards H.R. 1. Then the two-week CR on March 18th moved another $4 billion to $44.8 billion. So in other words, the gap, again, between the President’s fiscal year 2011 request and where H.R. 1 was, was $102.3 billion. Of that $102.3 billion difference, we have already moved $44.8 billion to closing that gap — almost halfway.
We are also prepared to put out specifics that will move another over $6 billion closer — so that we will have met them halfway — essentially split the difference between the President’s request and H.R. 1. And we’ve made clear that we are willing to cut spending further if we can find common ground on cuts that we can all agree would help reduce the deficit without harming the economy in the short term or harming our long-term competitiveness.
I’m almost impressed by the number of incredibly basic negotiating mistakes Sperling crammed into just three sentences.
Of that $102.3 billion difference, we have already moved $44.8 billion to closing that gap — almost halfway.
I wish I could triple underline that. Right off the bat, Sperling is basically takes the rhetorical stance that his side’s proposed compromise is in fact unreasonable because it is only “almost halfway.” Almost halfway is of course less than halfway and therefore perceived as less than fair. One should only describe one’s offer as fair because it is meeting them halfway, or even “more than halfway.”
We are also prepared to put out specifics that will move another over $6 billion closer — so that we will have met them halfway
Than after basically admitting the initial proposed compromise is unfair, he undercuts it further by instantly saying they will make more concessions.
And we’ve made clear that we are willing to cut spending further if we can find common ground.
Truly amazing, He basically calls the first offer unfair. He then immediately makes a new, higher offer. Then, in the very next sentence, completely undercuts this brand-new second offer by admitting they are prepared to go even higher. He would need to start using flare-guns if he wanted to more blatantly signal weakness.
Its like when Sperling goes to buy a used car, he ends up paying 30 percent over asking price.
Even if you think the administration actually wants to make more cuts and is using the House Republicans as an excuse to say to supporters “its not my fault, they made me do it,” what you don’t want to do is give the entire world the impression that the President of the United States has the negotiation skills of a five year old.