Random Thoughts in Today’s Negotiations 1

Obama’s Initial Threat

It is interesting to read in the news Obama’s latest negotiation tactic. He positioned himself as angry, and he may well have been, and walked out of stalled budget negotiations with Cantor. Before leaving he made a threat, “Don’t call my bluff.” Seasoned negotiators don’t make threats. Instead they take action. Ronald Reagan could not get help from congress to lower tax rates so he went directly to the public via television to promote his tax decreases. He got instant results.


1. Should Obama have walked out of the negotiation? Answer: Sure. It didn’t make any difference over a weekend anyway.

2. Should he have made a veiled threat? Answer: Not unless he wants lifelong enemies.

3. Could Obama successfully go to the American public directly via television and say he wants to increase the national debt which will NEVER be repaid so he can make welfare payments? Wow… tough sale.

Make no mistake, walking out is a decent hard line negotiation. However making a veiled threat should have the republicans and the Green Party circling the wagons and starting to look for Watergate type bugging.

What should Obama do?

1. Never make veiled threats.

2. Position an influence strategy on television, if he dares go on television with such as request, by claiming,”We don’t like increasing debt, but sometimes we must take one step back to take two steps forward.”

3. Remove welfare payments from non-Americans by passing a law forcing everyone who receives benefits in the United States to be a US citizen. Do that and senior citizens won’t need to worry about their benefits being slashed for a while because over $80 billion spent annually on non-US citizens will be removed from the budget. I even think the republicans would go for a solution like that. They may even let Obama bump debt for a while to get rid of non-citizen payments.

Article Update: August 1, 2011

The budget crisis settled early in the day according to negotiation standards. In fact it is surprising it closed it closed so early in the day rather than fighting until the last minute before the bell sounded.

Negotiation Terms

Obama did take a soft sell on the debt increase by saying we are “investing in our future.” From a political persuasion point-of-view the half-truth of “investing in the future” is much better than my original suggestion of, “sometimes we must take one step back to take two steps forward.”

Realistically we do need government spending to help stimulate the economy. That is certainly what propelled growth during the Reagan years but “investing: (in the future) is usually done with the intention of repaying borrowed money. Since the US has not paid off the debts incurred fighting World War II yet it is unlikely we will ever pay back this “investment in the future” either. This statement was simply a diversion from reality.

Persuasion Moral: Don’t listen to what they say, only understand what is happening and watch what people are doing.

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