It is a common negotiating tactic in any context to begin with an offer that borders on outrageous. If I expect to pay around $250,000 for your house, my first offer will be $180,000, yours will be something equally silly like $400,000, and after we haggle the price will end up right where we expect it to be.

Most people understand that in a process of negotiation, not every proposal is intended to be taken seriously. The budget recently proposed by the President shares some things in common with budget proposals from previous presidents; it has not a chance in hell of getting through Congress, as it turns out that even (or perhaps especially) Republicans love the gravy train of benefits and projects they can bring their districts. In short, the budget proposal from the White House often is kind of delusional unless one understands it for what it is – an exercise in position-taking. It's symbolic of the president's priorities and is as much an exercise in Public Relations as a serious proposal.

In that sense it isn't unique to this President to look at the proposal and declare confidently that it is DOA as even hard right Republicans are doing. What is unique, though, is that nobody in the White House seems to understand that their ludicrous proposal is indeed a ludicrous proposal. This is becoming one of the hallmarks of this surreal administration: They propose something without understanding that in our system the first proposal is not what you are actually going to get.

The belief that they can make whatever they want happen is rooted in the baffling insistence that 45 is some sort of Master Deal-Maker. In reality, he doesn't seem to understand even the basics of how a negotiation between two parties works with the ability of one of them (Him, that is) to bark out orders unilaterally. For all we know, he might not even fully understand that he can't make a budget without Congress signing off on it.

To the extent that there is any thought, strategy, or logic behind such a stupid proposal, it should be seen as a budget proposal designed to cause a shutdown. If I need to make you an offer on your house for some reason but I don't have any real desire to buy it, I can throw out the dumbest offer imaginable and declare it 100% firm and final. Perhaps – doubtful, but perhaps – someone in the Inner Sanctum sees a shutdown as the true goal and knows that Congress will oblige by making huge changes to the basic outline proposed by the White House. Then the standard "my way or nothing" response from the President will guarantee a lengthy shutdown. Incidentally, the Republicans have engineered two notable shutdowns and were wounded politically in both cases. For some reason they think shutdowns will increase their popularity, but it turns out that people tend to get pretty mad when things they depend upon stop working.

If engineering a shutdown is indeed the goal, then this budget proposal is a smart move. But something tells me that a lot of inmates running the asylum at the moment do not fully understand that this is not going to happen. To be on the safe side, if you feel the need to visit and federally funded institutions in the near future you might want to do it before May 1.

34 thoughts on “THE ART OF THE DEAL”

  • Good point. Bannon's goal may be to destroy the government and the rest of the Rebublicans aren't the brightness, the government might close its doors forever.

  • It's also worth noting that Trump's definition of a "deal" includes his willingness not to honor it. When struck, the counterparty thinks, "Okay, this is fair, or at least acceptable. I'll get X." Then, when the time comes, Trump doesn't pay. Or he stalls, sues, bargains, etc. It's easy to propose a good deal (which means "good" for both parties) when you're ready to welch on it.

  • Interesting because all I can think is that if Trump refuses to sign whatever non-ludicrous budget the House sends him, leading to a shutdown, wouldn't that be an ideal catalyst for the 25th amendment solution that everyone wants anyway?

    (long time lurker, first time poster. Hi!)

  • I can only imagine this ending in a metric shit-ton of public acrimony between Paul Ryan and Trump.

    The previous shut-downs _did_ hurt the GOP, who thought the public would get behind anything meant to embarrass the Kenyan Socialist Usurper (who actually had pretty good popularity numbers).

    When the GOP is in charge of all three branches, a shutdown is going to hurt them even more.

  • "According to the New York Times, Mulvaney took "a hard line on spending during President Obama’s term, vowing not to raise the nation’s debt limit and embracing the term 'Shutdown Caucus' because of his willingness to shut the government down instead."[25] In 2015, Mulvaney voted against a government-funding resolution, which would have prevented a government shutdown, in part because it included funding for Planned Parenthood.[27] Explaining his vote, Mulvaney said, "This is not about women's health. It’s about trafficking in pieces of dead children."[27]"

    Trump's OMB Director is fine with shutting down the govt. to "save the unborn", or apparently any reason at all.

  • fuzzbuzz215 says:

    Did the shut down hurt the Republicans? As far as I can tell, the government shuts downs, aside from a few screaming constituents, were a minor road bump on their way to nearly complete dominance of the legislative mechanisms of this country. If anything, it made them look resolute to their base. A government shutdown would be great for Republicans: they can kill the government and, because America is completely through the looking glass, they'll be rewarded for it.

  • Yeah, if I remember correctly, the shutdowns hurt Republicans in the eyes of people who already disliked Republicans.

  • @fuzzbuzz215

    Exactly. Remember that they think people who starve to death somehow deserve it. This has come up publicly at least 3 times in the past 8 years that I can think of, no one should be surprised by this anymore.

  • Did O understand this art when he preemptively ditched single payer? 11th dimensional chess, no doubt.

  • If the "budget" has no chance of passing, then there's no reason for the base to give any thought to the motivation of their "President."

    If a government shutdown has no measurable effect on their (base) lives, then it didn't happen.

    If the ACA replacement were passed and hurt them, it would hurt sometime in the future and feel (to them) like a problem with Big Government that their friends in the Republican party had not yet gotten around to fixing.

    The only thing that will change the disaster that is ongoing is for the opposition to show up. If Democrats don't show up and vote, then they don't actually exist as a party.

    "Stonekettle Station" says the opposition should do some stuff when they show up–I think it's either "Us" or "Them" and showing up is the only requirement.

  • Prairie Bear says:

    OT of the budget, but on healthcare, the other current big issue, and to expand a bit on what Jestbill said about the opposition — if the Congressional Democrats really were a serious opposition party, then all 197 (or however many) House Democrats would be cosponsors of HR676, Medicare for All (there are 69 as it is). There would be a companion bill in the Senate with 48(?) Dem cosponsors. Every one of them, especially the leadership, would hammer on this constantly in every public appearance, that it's the "replacement" for Obamacare. The problem is that they don't really care either.

  • I'm reliving my youth:
    Congressional panels investigating a POTUS!

    Rep. Trey Gowdy (R – Sibling-Schtupp; probably better known as the banjo-playin' inbred in "Deliverance") is now trying to blow smoke up the FBI's and NSA's asses, to misdirect them away from him and his fellow Republicans.

    Why would Obama want to wiretap t-RUMPLE-Thin-Skin, and listen to his phone calls?
    t-RUMPLE-Thin-Skin can't keep anything quiet, so he'd be bound to blurt it out himself.
    As Ralph Kramden would put it:

  • c u n d gulag:

    That banjo playing paleface in "Deliverance" has oodles more talent and charisma than Trey Gowdey.

    "If a government shutdown has no measurable effect on their (base) lives, then it didn't happen."

    This time it might REALLY affect them. If Ryan and His Trumpness get into a pissing contest it could actually lead to some serious pain for all of us, like ,me not getting a social security check. I might or not be able to get by for a month or two but there are LOTS of people–including a fuckton of the idiots who voted for these assholes–who will get SCREWED but good if their only income stream dries up. Instant "Black 3rd Thursday" or whatever day your gummint EFT hits your bank.

  • good reminder, Geoff.

    Altho it made me wonder if I have any booze left from last night, and it's only 9:30 am here as I type this…

  • Faintly McAbre says:

    One way in which the proposed budget has already succeeded beautifully, however, is in instilling real and absolute terror in the hearts and minds of those invested in so many of the things being slashed or eliminated. The GOP always proposes some ludicrous cuts, and there is always some outcry, but no one gets especially frothed up, because who would honestly really cut those programs for real? In the past, those programs survive because no one really wants them to go away, despite whatever posturing, and life goes on. But right now, the GOP really and truly WOULD do that, and there aren't enough people left to stop them. So in that sense, they've already won at terrorizing the people, and so any reprieve we get is supposed to make us think it wasn't so bad.

  • @Faintly McAbre:

    I hear you.

    I think I dropped a turd into a punchbowl yesterday. I was having a few beers (more than two, less than unconciousness) and somebody said something about it being a good thing that we were tightening up our borders. I said, "This country was built on immigration.". I didn't shout it, I wasn't spittleflecking anyone. I didn't launch into a diatribe of epic length. One sentence is all I offered.

    It was like I had said, "Well, I think I'll go diddle some toddlers, after I crush their puppies' heads in a vise.". It just stopped them all and untracked their train of thought. The fact that every single one of us, certainly, everyone in the room and about 90% of the residents of this country can go back several generations and have non-english speaking, immigrant relatives. The lucky ones were white, christian europeans who had means to support themselves on arrival. The unlucky ones didn't cross off all of the squares for an Immgrant Bingo and spent months or years learning english, finding work, overcoming the prejudice of people who didn't like their customs, food or apparel.

    Then there were the REALLY unlucky ones. Yeah, THOSE people.

  • Bitter Scribe says:

    One of the requirements for being a good negotiator is mastery of detail. You have to know what everything is really worth and be up to speed on anything and everything that could affect the negotiations, from regulatory issues to the personalities and motivations of the other side. And if there's one thing in which Trump is utterly undistinguished and never will be, it's mastering details.

  • Sadly, democommie, the Repugs will blame Democrats. fuzzbuzz hit the nail on the head. Prairie Bear has the right strategy for the Democrats, but none of them has the gumption or the will to do it. Likely because their campaign contributions will suffer if they do anything at all.

    We are just so screwed.

  • @Mothra:

    The Democrats have been watching the voters–whose rights they won and then, when Reagan began the process of turning the country back over to the oligarchs by gutting PATCO, trying to do what they could (far less than any of us would ever be happy with) to both retain their seats in the House and Senate while fending off repeated attacks on unions and the working man by their steaming pile-o-shut colleagues on the right side of the aisle–either retain their party affiliation and vote aginst it, or simply switch sides.

    They're commies to what would be the extreme right wing of a sane body politic, but is now the "squishy middle"; they're fascists to the left and irrelevant to the BernJilGarbros. The DNC is a less toxic analog to the RNC.

    Everybody hates both parties but somehow the GOP is able to get more people who hate them to elect their slate. If you want to win, you either play dirty or you work waaaaaaaay harder. If you want change, it starts where you live.

  • "jokers to the left of me, clowns on the right . . ."

    But there ain't no middle left no more, and in the words of Yeats, ". . . the center doesn't hold". Or something.

    Gawd I swore I'd shut up and stop commenting but can't help myself.

  • If they shut down the gov't, there's no way that helps Republicans and hurts them in every way.

    People start thinking vacation on May 1. If you shut down the government, while you control it, it pretty clearly declares your abdication to governing. I doubt Fox News Republicans will glow with pride that their national parks are receiving zero tourist dollars at the start of tourist season.

  • "Incidentally, the Republicans have engineered two notable shutdowns and were wounded politically in both cases."

    Wounded so badly that they lost the House, the Senate, the presidency, governorships and state legislatures nationwide.

    Oh, wait, no, the opposite of that. The exact opposite.

    "(W)ounded politically"? Citation very much needed.

  • @April: I Like it! It's a much more justifiable reason and approach than 'because of what was done to Garland'. Why should we let an appointment proceed if the appointer is under investigation for potential treason?

  • " I doubt Fox News Republicans will glow with pride that their national parks are receiving zero tourist dollars at the start of tourist season."

    Trumpligula is planning on selling them to the Saudis anyway, so that will just be a way of ensuring that they are not bunged up prior to the sale. And I hear that this company:

    is going to have all the contracts plus a whole pile of blank H1b's or whatever else they need to make sure that they have enough of their own people "in country", so to speak.

    and they don't just build shit up, they wreck it down.

  • "Incidentally, the Republicans have engineered two notable shutdowns and were wounded politically in both cases." Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence. I didn't see any political punishment. On the contrary, they gained more seats in both houses. Democrats have been saying this for years, and the facts do not, so far as I can see, support them. Also, Hillary lost.

  • That you don't see any punishment doesn't mean that there wasn't any.

    Newt Gingrich, may he die of something far worse than whatver afflicted his first wife, lost his speaker's job over the first one. I think Boehner lost his for the same reason in 2015. Now, those two assholes leaving Congress is not something I would cry about (except that their replacements might be worse) but I don't think that tinkering with the machinery that spits out SS checks is inconsequential.

    And Hilz lost, 'cuz…?

  • I wasted over half of my 20s in Real Estate Finance, and every time I hear the whole "he's a great negotiator" thing, it sends my blood boiling (I got into trouble in Australia recently when I argued vehemently with immigration staff about this). There are a variety of ways to get a transaction price and terms agreed in real estate, and the most common are to pay too much (often using other people's money), to walk away, and to have the resources to use patience (ie to let the area develop around your pre-acquired parcel or structure). Trump used all of these at points in his career, to greater or lesser success. And exactly none of them are true negotiation skills and only arguably deal-making — there's nothing artful in paying too much, for example, although it's still a deal made in the technical sense. So I keep yelling until hoarse that nothing in his past career would suggest any transferability to anything outside of real estate when you are the 2nd generation of a well-funded and well-positioned and well-resourced family with access to large amounts of external capital. Outside of real estate, we are all just a Trump Steaks test market now.

  • @VCB:

    But, but, b–he's a complete asshole and everbody knows that "nice guys finish last. Loozerz. Sad." so Trumpligula has to be the bigliest negotiationistical dealmaker, EVER! amirite? I mean I always want to do bid'neth with people that cheat, lie, steal and belittle everyone around them to try to make them forget about their tiny hands which are still far too big for their penises.

    But, what do I know? I'm not a fauxbillionaire with an ego the size of small nation.

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