But I'd like us to get clear about what constitutes leverage in negotiations. To do that, I'll once again quote professional negotiator and blogger Joe Markowitz.
This is basic Negotiation 101. If you MUST make a deal, you are going to have to compromise, because the other side knows you must make a deal. And therefore you probably won't get your best deal, but you will get something accomplished. On the other hand, if you can afford to walk away from a deal, you can also afford to be uncompromising, because you win either way. Either you make the deal you want, or you blame the other side for the failure to conclude the negotiation.What he's saying is that it is the one who can walk away from the table without a deal that has the leverage.
So lets take a look at these upcoming situations from that angle. What happens if there is no deal on an alternative to the sequestered cuts? First of all, unlike the fiscal cliff, regular voters won't be impacted immediately in any real way. So there won't be as much pressure from the public to get a deal.
Secondly, the way these cuts were set up will have a much more serious impact on Republican constituencies (half of the cuts are from defense) than Democratic constituencies (Social Security, Medicaid, programs for low income people were exempted from cuts and Medicare is limited to a 2% cut to providers).
Overall, neither side is going to want to walk away from a deal. But the Republicans will be less inclined to do so.
If the Republicans really do decide to take the debt ceiling hostage once again, that's not a negotiation. Its a game of chicken. Neither side can let the hostage die. Its simply a matter of who blinks first. President Obama has said over and over again that he's not going to play that game. So it appears as though we'll have to wait and see how long the Republicans can to hold out before they blink.
The other thing that will come into play is Joe's last line about who can afford to walk away without getting blamed. President Obama has spent 4 years building up his own capital as someone who is reasonable in being willing to compromise. The Republicans were running out of that kind of capital prior to this whole fiscal cliff fiasco. But I'd say that except for in the reddest part of Redistan, they're running in the below zero range these days. They have absolutely NO leverage when it comes to being able to withstand another stunt like we saw over the last couple of days.
So cool your jets on the "he gave away all his leverage" folks. Or, as we Obamabots like to put it...