Go to school, Barack.


There’s talk of a compromise on EFCA, the big labor bill that everybody’s been going to war over for the past several months (also known as the “card check” bill).  Under the compromise, the card check is eliminated, but the rest of the bill remains.  One of TPM’s readers, a labor lawyer, says:

Fwiw, my opinion is that this EFCA compromise is really what organized labor wants and has always wanted. Business took the bait with the card check issue and thought they had won.

If true, President Obama needs to go to school on how Big Labor played this, because, right now, he kinda sucks as a negotiator.

Obama’s problem, as has been noted in many places, is that he tends to negotiate with himself, rather than the other side.  That is, he makes concessions without any agreement from the other side that they will then vote for the bill in question, or make corresponding concessions.  Instead of starting out proposing a health care plan that is single-payer, then conceding to the middle position of a plan with a strong public option, he started out at the middle position without getting anything from the congressional GOP in return.

And why should they give anything?  After all, he wasn’t negotiating with them.  He was negotiating with himself.

Big Labor is old school.  They’ve been around the block a few times.  They know how to play the game so you’re where you want to be at the end of the negotation, instead of at the beginning.

Watch and learn, Mr. President.


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3 Responses to “Go to school, Barack.”

  1. jazzbumpa Says:

    You’re assuming he ever wanted a single-payer universal plan. Maybe so, but I’m not convinced. I think he deals from the center because he’s basically a centrist conservative, like Clinton.

  2. urbino Says:

    No. I’m actually not assuming he wanted single-payer. I’m assuming he wanted a strong public option. But by making that the starting point for negotiations, he virtually guaranteed he wouldn’t get it.

    You don’t start where you want to finish. That’s my point. You’ve effectively negotiated away all your bargaining chips without getting anything in return. You’ve negotiated with yourself, not your opponent.

    If he wanted a single-payer plan, then, he would’ve needed to start somewhere left of that — British-style full-on socialized medicine, fer instance. Then he could compromise by proposing a “Medicare for Everybody” plan, which also has the advantage of using safe and familiar terminology, get a couple of moderate GOP votes in exchange, and — bingo, bango, bongo – you’ve got single-payer. Or at least a shot at it. Which you don’t have if you start negotiations there.

  3. jazzbumpa Says:

    As good as that sounds, it’s easier for me to believe that BHO is really not so liberal than it is to believe he is really not so politically savvy.

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