When negotiating many people suggest that the participants start with common objectives. This advice, assumes of course, negotiating efficiency is valued. However, the negotiations for the debt ceiling increase remind me that it is common values, not objectives, that create efficiency in negotiations. The federal government, as has the California state government of the last three years, illustrates this point clearly.
When people acknowledge different values, compromise on the values doesn’t exist. Negotiators compromise on things that they hold less dear than their opposite. As such, values are generally not subject to negotiation. The federal government of the United States has reached an impasse over a value—The care and responsibility owed to the poor and less capable by the wealthy and more capable.
I readily agree that I express a higher degree of debt by the wealthy to the poor that most people. Thankfully, this piece is not about supporting one level over the other. In my opinion, President Barack Obama negotiated away a value when he signed the extension of the “Bush Tax Cuts.” The Republicans have logically taken the last experience into account when negotiating the debt ceiling and no doubt find the Presidents’ behavior lacking. As publically expressed, the President signed the extension to ward off the economy from recession and keep the poor from suffering a tax increase. But the nation is not at a much more dangerous point.
The objectives previously sought have not been met, and this negotiation is much more serious. I suggest the President stick to his values and avoid inappropriate trade-offs. The country can recover from a crisis of confidence in our ability to repay debt far quicker than a backtracking on the level of duty from the wealthy to the poor.