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Thoughts on the Budget Compromise

December 11, 2013

I don’t know if can really speak on the budget deal that Congressman Ryan and Senator Murray led.  I don’t even know if we can call it a deal yet, because both sides of the aisle are going to come out and call it a sandwich of offal that they’re being asked to eat.  But I do have some thoughts on the process and results, and these talk a bit to strategy.  And it’s early, and I’m up, so…

  • Honestly, this is how you build compromise.  Each side puts someone in place who has enough connections to make a deal stick, and then you negotiate in relative silence.  Throwing everything into the public eye just gets people ready to fight it, while you should instead be working from the points you initially agreed to use.
  • There’s probably supposed to be a reasonable amount of selling while this deal is in the works, and the lack of news leaks leads me to believe that maybe the negotiators felt that they should work the deal first and then try to sell it.  It’s a bit more dangerous when the issue is as charged as this one, but then again, it might have been the only option.
  • I’m impressed that both sides appeared to give.  Everyone is going to hate this deal.  And that’s good because…
  • When everyone has to give a bit, then they realize that everyone else has to give too.  That’s not a bad plan, and selling a budget deal in the middle is probably something that needs to happen more often.  I seem to remember it worked that way years ago.
  • If you put a strategic thinker in charge of your deal-making, then you typically get a couple “Easter Eggs” in it that come out later.  Sometimes those are good, sometimes not so, but they’re in there.  One of them I saw is potentially the fact that government pension indices are changing, which means they’re harder to retroactively change.  That will torque someone’s bolt later.

It seems refreshing to me to see that something was negotiated out of the spotlight and reached a consensus ahead of time.  I wonder if the middle of the aisle will be happy enough to push it against the right and left sides?

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