The House GOP’s give-us-everything-we-want compromise

THE HOUSE GOP’S GIVE-US-EVERYTHING-WE-WANT COMPROMISE…. Depending on one’s perspective, House Republicans are either extremely good at negotiating, or extremely bad at it.

The good news is, GOP leaders in the House are working on a plan that would prevent a government shutdown. The bad news is, their plan is ridiculous, and identical to their original plan.

House Republicans told Senate Democrats on Wednesday that they would agree to a temporary spending bill to avert a government shutdown next week only if the measure began instituting House-passed cuts on a pro-rated basis.

Officials familiar with talks between representatives of House and Senate leaders said the proposal, still being assembled for a possible vote next week, would call for $4 billion in reductions in exchange for an additional two weeks to allow the House and Senate to negotiate a spending plan to finance the government through Sept. 30.

Democratic aides said the short-term proposal was likely to be deemed unacceptable since it simply reflected a staggered version of the $61 billion in cuts approved by the House on Saturday in a proposal Senate Democrats already oppose.

At first blush, folks who aren’t paying attention to the details might think it sounds reasonable. First the House Republicans were demanding $100 billion in cuts; now they’re insisting on $4 billion in cuts. See how accommodating they’re being?

Except that’s obviously not the case. A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) explaining, “This bill would simply be a two-week version of the reckless measure the House passed last weekend. It isn’t going to fool anyone.”

At least, it shouldn’t.

Taking a step back, this is quite a negotiating strategy, isn’t it? The opening bid was, “Give us everything we want.” This was followed by, “Give us everything we want, or we’ll shut down the government.”

The new line is, “OK, let’s compromise. Give us everything we want on a prorated basis, or we’ll shut down the government.”

To call this a “compromise” is to strip the word of all meaning.

Let’s also note that the House Republicans’ figure is itself arbitrary. It’s not as if the GOP has identified $4 billion in waste they want to eliminate — they simply chose a number they thought sounded nice. There is no seriousness of thought or purpose here. Republicans haven’t even said what would be cut by $4 billion — they’re starting with a dubious answer, hoping to figure out the question later.

It’s as if the House of Representatives is being run by children.

The inflexible deadline hasn’t changed, and policymakers have until a week from tomorrow to figure something out. Yesterday, I said there’s an 80% chance of a shutdown. As of this morning, I’d say it’s at least 85%.