Get me the President on the phone. I’ve just had an insight that’s bloody brilliant in re: negotiating with our new BFF, the Republicans, over the stimulus package.
I am reminded of Green Acres, that masterpiece of American absurdism, whenever Oliver Douglas went to haggle with Mr. Haney. Oliver would behave in a rational manner, starting with a low bid, and then when Mr. Haney countered with something higher, attempting to meet Mr. Haney somewhere in the middle.
Except it never worked like that. Every time Oliver would raise his offer, Mr. Haney would respond by raising his. Rather than the paradigm of honorable compromise that Oliver was following, Mr. Haney saw that he didn’t have to give anything away because his opponent was willing to give up what he had started with.
This is in fact what is happening now with the Republicans and the stimulus package. President Obama stated his goals with the stimulus package, and the Republicans immediately made a counteroffer: more tax cuts. The President offers to cut taxes, the Republican counter with “no contraceptives!” And so it goes.
Instead, the Current President should enter that room with the Republicans this afternoon and deal with them like Lisa Douglas: they say to ditch the contraceptives, he returns with raised taxes. They respond with OK, you can keep the contraceptives. He responds with draconian regulation of Wall Street. They say, OK, Clinton-level income tax rates, but that’s our final offer.
You see how that works? When you’re dealing with Mr. Haney, you have to be Lisa Douglas.
Hm. Haney. Cheney. Mere coincidence? I think not.