compromising yourself into the discussion

I feel like Ross is sort of missing the point concerning Matt Yglesias’s post that he quotes. To me, the central point of Matt’s post isn’t that deficits don’t matter in a time of financial crisis and liquidity traps; the point is that, when Republicans aren’t going to play ball no matter what, why not cram a bill full of things Democrats want? By refusing to vote for the stimulus package en masse, the Republicans have cut themselves out of the game. If some number of them would get on board, given the many large concessions that Democrats have made in hopes of enticing them, then they’d have something to bargain with. But by signalling that they were uninterested in compromise, they became an obstacle to work around or run over. If that’s going to be the case either way, why not work to help the liberal cause?

I’m not much of a centrist but it seems to me that this is a useful moderating mechanism in a representative democracy. The more that one side or the other plugs their ears and refuses to compromise, the less incentive there is to include their concerns– or the concerns of their constituents– at all. Of course, this is only useful if your side is in power. And now my side is, and like Yglesias I would like our Democratic leadership to remember that and act accordingly.

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

19 thoughts on “compromising yourself into the discussion

  1. isn’t Ross’s point more about the ideology of the bill itself? I took him to be saying that, whether or not Republicans are willing to cooperate, it’s still not good policy to run up the already-enormous deficit more than need be. I tend to agree. Don’t we need to redefine whether a program “works” in light of the recession?

      Quote  Link

    Report

  2. That’s a fair point. I just don’t see Ross recognizing what to me is a bare fact: by refusing to compromise at all on the bill, House Republicans are giving up their ability to make that kind of point. In other words, if they’d compromise a bit on the larger bill, they’d be in a better position to argue what you’re arguing and change things.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  3. the many large concessions that Democrats have made

    I think the biggest master stroke of the Obama administration so far has been convincing people that the tax cuts in the stimulus package are only there as a concession to the GOP. In reality, tax cuts as a fairly large portion of stimulus are entirely in line with the economic thinking of Obama’s advisers: public works takes time so a short term stop-gap of tax cuts is appropriate. I guess there have been a few legit concessions, like cutting out abortion and contraception funding, but that was fairly minor and I suspect it was only there as a lightning rod to draw off GOP criticism in the first place.

    I think the Democrats are actually doing what you want them to do. They have successfully made the GOP look obstructionist, and this was helped immensely by the fact that the GOP has nothing constructive to add to the debate. I frankly don’t see much in the way of compromise going on, and that’s a good thing at this point.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  4. The post “What ‘Belongs’ In the Stimulus” by Yglesias does NOT even mention deficits. He is only questioning the reasoning of those who oppose the inclusion of certain parts of the stimulus, Sen. Nelson and David Brooks to be specific.

    Douthat’s “Deficits Don’t Matter?” sights the Yglesias post and goes from there. But sighting Yglesias seems to imply that Yglesias is defending deficit spending. Matt may indeed defend the practice but he does not do so in the post Ross sights. That is very misleading.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  5. Mostly I am just awestruck by Obama. He is one move ahead of the repubs right down line.
    I keep going back to my Game Theory texts and marvelling over seeing EGT play out in the political theater.
    Of course, it helps that the old dinosaurs Republican leadership falls right into Obamas clever mammalian traps everytime.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  6. Part of what we’re seeing here is the flip side of the all-or-nothing strategy that the GOP started running since at least Gingrich, and codified under Rove. If you are totally unyielding, then when you get 51%, you get a chance to run the table — which is basically what they did for a while there. But that same strategy, when you get 49% (or, indeed, somewhat less even than that), means you get bupkis. It’s the kind of thinking that can seem soooo attractive when you think that you’re within sight of the promised land, as when the Republicans started not just daydreaming about but planning for a “permanent majority”. But turns out it’s a pretty lousy way to try to operate in a pluralistic democracy.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  7. Bob, I was under the impression that Yglesias’s failure to mention deficit spending was precisely the problem. Douthat’s right to point out that seeing this solely as a political opportunity is shortsighted.

    I definitely appreciate the fact that Republicans are sleeping in the bed they made, don’t get me wrong — they have totally compromised any claim to bipartisanship, or to limited government spending.

    But I think Obama ought to be seeing two prerogatives here. The first is simply practical: whether or not there is a political party actively agitating for limited government spending, that should still be an administrative priority. Part of digging ourselves out of the recession is going to be getting the most bang for our buck when it comes to stimulus. Just because Democrats are supposed to be in favor of “more government” doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to use their common sense.

    The second prerogative is political. It should be clear to everyone at this point that Republicans tend to run in 2010 on limited spending. They are, in other words, banking on the early failure of the stimulus (which honestly is probably not a bad bet.)

    So Obama should take the wind out of their sails by making limited spending a higher priority. If the administration can find a way to pare down spending on its own, say in a few high-profile program cuts (perhaps even cuts from their own bill) under the “it’s not working” rhetoric that Obama employed in his inaugural, they can go a long way toward building an enduring majority.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  8. pfft
    The Party of teh Stupid is now the demographic minority.
    The repubs have just provided us with an empirical demonstration that they are obstructionist, reactionary, and POWERLESS.
    Good luck with that.

    Your Magic 8ball Prection is………..Doom.
    lol

      Quote  Link

    Report

  9. You say that now, but popular consensus on Republicans being obstructionists requires that the stimulus work — something which no one can predict.

    Even though it’s a purely political play on their part I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad one. They’re going “all in” so to speak on the stimulus failure, so that in two years they can be the party of small government and private enterprise again. While you might be right, matoko, attitudes like yours are the ones that discourage damage control, the same overconfident mentality that ultimately destroyed the Republican majority. Democrats should learn the lessons of recent history and proceed more cautiously.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  10. You don’t get the basic dichotomy, yet do you?
    The basis for small government is so that local churches can distribute welfare. Once we have large government that distributes those services, the idea of small government is doomed.
    Look at Great Britain. Large government increases secularization of the population. There is a strong negative correlation between IQ and religious belief, in every country’s population in the world except the US…..i think the hidden variable is small autonomous government.
    Bush destroyed that model.
    Now Obama is not only going to institute nat’l healthcare, but he will steal the faith based initiative and bricolage local churches into welfare engines.
    I for one welcome the endless reign of Our New Liberal Overlords.
    They couldn’t be any worse.
    That is ended.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  11. Max thanks for your comments.

    You write, “I was under the impression that Yglesias’s failure to mention deficit spending was precisely the problem.” Perhaps so, but as you will see if you review my comment I conjectured that Matt may well defend deficit spending, but that was not the case with the post Ross linked.

    After I said that I googled “Yglesias deficits.” The result, almost 40,000 hits. The first two selections confirmed my suspicion, Matt does see a case for deficit spending. The posts are 1) “Sucker’s Bet” posted 9/24/08 and 2) “Deficits Only Matter When They Matter” posted 12/1/08. I recommend them for an insight to his thinking not only on deficits but also taxes. I his September post Matt writes, “…the case seems clear for wildly higher tax rates on high-income individuals than prevailed during the Clinton years. Are we afraid of stifling the kind of fat cat activity that’s brought us to our current situation?” Way to go, Matt!

    Now I have no problem with Ross using Yglesias as a foil. But I do have a problem with Ross misleading, my view, readers into thinking Matt was talking about deficits in that particular post. Or even your view, that the criticism offered by Ross goes to the fact that Matt did NOT mention deficits. The plain fact is deficits were not on the table. And in general I have a problem with any criticism that focuses on what was not done, said, written. And I think in the short form comments both Ross and Matt tend to use it is really unfair to criticize comments on what was not written.

    On the matter of deficits. I think it is pretty clear that everyone, yes everyone, will find cases where deficit spending is necessary, from the most principled conservative to the most profligate liberal. So in that broad sense deficits are not the issue. It’s just a question of which ox is being gored.

    On the question, are the democrats and President Obama making a political mistake by backing a broad stimulus plan? Are they being short-sighted?

    I have no idea. Especially since the plan remains in flux. Maybe Obama will return to the Larry Summers view of a more targeted stimulus, give republican senators something they can vote for. I will, however, go out on the limb and say if economic conditions in the summer of 2010 are not much improved republicans will have a lot of ammunition

    But I hope I have made my by bitch with Ross a bit more clear.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  12. Gee, you might have thought that the one who is going to negotiate peace with Hamas, Iran and North Korea could get in some practice by reaching agreement with a group of people who share his language and culture and live in the same country. But you’d be wrong.

    More generally, I’m always puzzled why people like Yglesias and DeBoer are so filled with weepy empathy for foreigners who hate us, and so filled with venomous hatred for their fellow citizens.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  13. Why do you say “Huh?” You state that your domestic political opponents do not negotiate in good faith and that there is no point in compromising with them: they are simply an obstacle to be run over. They are irrational people with misguided values that must be reformed by the kind of people who went to Dalton and Harvard. At the same time, you (or Yglesias, anyway) state that we must negotiate with, say, the Iranians, recognizing that our unjust imperialist policies of the past century are the primary cause of the troubles between us. I think those points of view qualify as venomous hatred for your fellow citizens and weepy empathy for foreigners who hate us.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  14. You state that your domestic political opponents do not negotiate in good faith and that there is no point in compromising with them: they are simply an obstacle to be run over.

    No. I’m saying that, as they seem committed to not voting for the stimulus no matter what the consequences, the Republicans make themselves an obstacle to be run over. If they were willing to compromise, there’s reason for the Democrats to make concessions and work to a broader consensus than they have now. But if congressional Republicans won’t vote for the stimulus no matter what, why shouldn’t the Democrats include whatever programs they find worthwhile?

      Quote  Link

    Report

  15. But the Democrats haven’t proposed a bill that even a squish like Peggy Noonan or a good government type like Alice Rivlin can get behind. So there seems insufficient evidence at present that the Republicans won’t negotiate or compromise. I at least had not expected that the new Obama foreign policy involved giving the Iranians a week’s ultimatum and then cutting off further talks, but that seems to be the Yglesias/DeBoer method of dealing with Republicans.

      Quote  Link

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *