A Lesson In Negotiating
Not long ago I took a negotiations class that gave all the lessons Washington DC needs to solve the budget problems in about 3 hours. At the beginning of class we were given sheets with our roles, goals for the group we represented, and available negotiating points. We were given an hour or two to negotiate with anywhere between one and six other people on the topics.
Each night we reconvened with our solutions, discussed, and went home. Not once was an agreement not reached and while there were some hurt feelings here and there the point was that compromise and a view of the big picture, or making the pie bigger, was the key.
Now we have politicians in Washington DC who are so set on a single issue that they've lost sight of the bigger picture and we the people are the ones that are suffering.
If rumors are correct President Obama and Speaker Boener found some common ground and some compromises that led to an outline for a sweeping budget deal last week. But when the speaker took the deal back to his constituents they balked because they feel they've been given a mandate to not raise taxes. As if 51% of the vote is a mandate and worth holding up a deal.
Sometimes big negotiations are best completed behind closed doors between a small group of people. That's why there's a Speaker of the House, Majority Leader in the Senate, and President of the United States. Stick those three in a room and work it out. If you don't like what they work out vote them out next election.
But instead we have the principals of a deal worked out only to have those who are unwilling to compromise and weren't in the room balking at it. I don't want to pay more taxes or have spending cuts in any government service I use but I also understand there's a bigger picture here. The pie is shrinking and both sides need to focus on how to make it bigger, not quibble over lines drawn in the sand that will push the country toward disaster.
You were elected to do a job. Now negotiate, get what you can, but at the end of class a deal better be done or everyone is getting an F. Just like we've given every elected official in Minnesota.