House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) just made a brief statement urging the president to sign the House GOP’s one-week funding extension. Many in the press corps were baffled by this. But once again, we return to Negotiations 101.
First, Boehner is reminding everyone that the president threatened a veto over an unobjectionable bill, the only one out there to keep the government operating. This is a not very subtle reminder to those in the White House that the presidential veto threat has put Obama in a very tough spot. Why did you threaten to veto the extension, Mr. President? Obama can’t answer that question, so he really, really needs to get a deal today.
Second, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is insisting there is a deal on money but not on the Planned Parenthood funding rider. How do we know this isn’t true? Because Boehner’s strategy from the get-go was to leave two issues open — the rider and the spending-cut total. This is how you get the best deal: Democrats need to “buy ” the rider with more cuts or take the rider and leave the cuts where they are. The way negotiators phrase this is, ”There’s no deal on any issue unless there is a deal on all issues.” And guess what? That’s what Boehner has been saying nearly every day. (Take my word for it, this is no different than negotiations with the Directors Guild, the Screen Actors Guild or any entertainment-industry union that I sat across the table from for years and years.)
So far, Boehner’s tactics are working. The amount of cuts keep going up, and there is no deal. Hint: this means he is using the rider to extract more cuts from the Dems.