Brinkmanship Works

December 21st, 2011 at 5:21 pm | 72 Comments |

| Print

It seems that everyone is deploring the “tactics” of the House Republicans in refusing to pass a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and by doing so, sildenafil drawing out the standoff until the last minute. Is this the way resolve a dispute? Yes, hospital deadlines force the combatants to make concessions.

I’ve been practicing law for 22 years, purchase and began my career believing the judicial system was an efficient and civilized method of dispute resolution.

It is civilized, generally, but extremely inefficient. in large cases lawyers will take positions on any manner of issues underlying the case, i.e., whether certain items are admissible evidence, whether certain arguments will dispose of the opponents’ case, whether a certain witness will be credible, whether the judge will rule a certain way on a pre-trial motion, and convince their clients that those positions will prevail.

Then the clients let the lawyers fight on for round after round, running up the bill, but hoping their lawyer’s predictions will turn out to be true. This plays out within deadlines. The judge sets a discovery cut-off, a deadline to challenge expert witnesses, a deadline to bring dispositive motions, and finally, if all of that fails to resolve the case, a trial date.

It is those deadlines, combined with the judge’s rulings on the parties’ contentions as the case proceeds that get the stubborn litigants to the bargaining table. When one side loses a few key decisions, and his or her case is demonstrably weakened, then he needs to start negotiating. Is this “brinkmanship?” as David Frum and other commentators, call the process? Yes but it’s also pragmatism. Parties in big-stakes disputes won’t budge until they believe the tide is turning against them. In the courtroom, that tide is the judge.

Is there a better system for getting the litigants to bridge their differences? We have mediation where an experienced neutral, usually a retired judge, makes the same preliminary decisions the judge is likely to make on evidentiary and other issues. This is conducted in private, not in a public courtroom, where the lawyers engage in posturing for the media. But it works the same way in exposing the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ positions. Thus, mediation is really just an accelerated and private way of doing what the court would do. Nobody has developed a better way of resolving big cases.

And I don’t see that anyone in Congress has done so either. The strength and weaknesses of the two parties’ positions are now laid bare for the public. When the public (the judge in this dispute) starts to make its views known, the parties will move accordingly. This may not be efficient, but as we have seen over and over this year, the alternative, basically a private mediation conducted among party elites, (the Supercommittee, the debt limit negotiations last summer), have not worked efficiently either. This is how a highly contentious and partisan dispute will have to be resolved in Congress.

Some old-timers will bring up stories of how LBJ and Everett Dirksen met over drinks and came to terms on things. But the Republicans were a small minority in both houses at the time. Those sessions were really to work out the terms of the Republican capitulation, like Grant and Lee had at Appomattox. And as for those tales about how Tip O’Neill and Reagan knocked back beers or Irish Whiskey at the White House in the 1980’s, that, we now know from Reagan’s diary, rarely accomplished anything of substance.

Republicans had a strong hand in the early 1980’s, and there were many, many contentious fights over aid to the contras, tax cuts, etc. Reagan did not “work out” those disputes with O’Neill except in a very few cases, like the 1983 social security deal, which followed the recommendations of a presidential blue-ribbon commission.

I’m hoping the public comes down on the side of a 1 year social security tax cut. It will get Senator Reid and his colleagues back to Washington very quickly. And that’s how this process should work.

Recent Posts by Howard Foster

72 Comments so far ↓

  • Saladdin

    “And I don’t see that anyone in Congress has done so either. The strength and weaknesses of the two parties’ positions are now laid bare for the public. When the public (the judge in this dispute) starts to make its views known, the parties will move accordingly. This may not be efficient, but as we have seen over and over this year, the alternative, basically a private mediation conducted among party elites, (the Supercommittee, the debt limit negotiations last summer), have not worked efficiently either. This is how a highly contentious and partisan dispute will have to be resolved in Congress.”

    The false premise you are offering is that both sides are equally responsible, with the assumptions that the GOP house members are more correct. Considering that the house wouldn’t allow an up or down vote on the Senate measure (for fear it would pass), and the Senate version passed 89-11, I don’t think the GOP led house is correct in this assumption.

  • Reflection Ephemeral

    I’m unpersuaded about this analogy. When you engage in brinkmanship for a client, you’re running up his legal bills and his uncertainty. Not great, but something you can talk to him about & for which you can get his permission.

    When House Republicans, as on the continuance of the payroll tax cut and during their debt ceiling hostage-taking, engage in brinkmanship, they’re risking uncertainty as to all Americans’ paychecks in a week and a half and the country’s creditworthiness, respectively.

    So, when you argue that it “works,” you have to believe that Republicans don’t care about how policy affects people’s lives.

    Also, I genuinely don’t think it’s fair to expect or hope for “the public [to come] down on the side of a 1 year social security tax cut.” Americans have busy lives. It’s the holidays. They really shouldn’t be required to do sit-ins & phone trees for their Congressmen in order to get them to pass a bill they all seem to want to pass. What’s more, it doesn’t work as a description of how things work in the real world, either. What percentage of Americans know which party controls the House & Senate? I don’t hold the public in contempt for their failure to be political obsessives, I think they shouldn’t have to be political obsessives, but even if you disagree, you have to admit that there’s no conceivable way the public would “come down on” this issue, or how they’d show that to Congress in the next week.

    The problem is, as you point out, that the Republicans genuinely don’t care about the costs they impose on America’s well-being, choosing to play hardball over everything. That’s bad for America.

  • Rob_654

    Waiting until a deadline can bring compromise, however, this is beyond that.

    You have Republicans who do not want compromise at any cost – period – full stop.

    The problem I see for the Republicans is what I heard from a few guys at the gym today – they are Conservatives and Libertarians, middle class guys, and they were really could not believe that the Republicans fought so hard for tax cuts for the wealthy (which they support) are suddenly ready to throw Middle Class folks under the bus if they don’t get a laundry list of “must-haves”…

    I just laughed because anyone who has been paying attention knows this full well, but, IMHO, I think that even Republican Supporters are starting to say “Hey, wait a minute, I thought you guys were against any tax increases and you fought like heck for the wealthy, what about us little folks who vote for you?”.

    • paul_gs

      Except Repubs have compromised every step of the way. Did the debt ceiling get increased? Yup. Were savage cuts enacted? Nope.

      The media (and Democrats) keep the meme about the “uncompromising” Repubs alive but it’s never been true.

      • larocquj

        Hi paul_gs! Still pushing the BS about the debt ceiling being a Republican “concession” to the Democrats, huh?

        The debt ceiling increase was made necessary by the deficit. The deficit was caused by spending. Spending was approved by Democrats AND Republicans in Congress. Both parties are responsible for the need to raise the debt limit, plain and simple.

        The Republicans never asked for “savage” cuts, just spending cuts. They got those in the Budget Control Act of 2011. Revenues were not part of the deal; Republicans got their cuts and gave nothing in return.

        This is at least the third time I’ve caught you pushing this line of garbage. Every time I see you do it I will post a rebuttal.

        • paul_gs

          So what’s been cut then? Anything?

        • armstp

          Do you have any concept of anything or do you just constantly talk out of your ass? Go look at what has been done to the budget over the last several years. Read some CBO reports. Read some budget reports. Understand the topics before you flap your yap.

          I know up in Canada you are not focused on reading U.S. fiscal documents like budgets, so don’t comment on these topics.

        • paul_gs

          I’ll repeat my question:

          So what’s been cut then? Anything?

        • larocquj

          paul_gs, are you familiar with the Budget Control Act of 2011? If not, check out the brief summary of the Bill on Speaker Boehner’s website at There, Speaker Boehner describes $917 billion in discretionary spending cuts that start, and I quote, “immediately.” From my understanding that translates to $25 billion in 2012 with future discretionary cuts in out years. The Act also set up that bipartisan supercommittee that was supposed to agree to something like $1.2 trillion in cuts to avoid the sequestration “trigger” — across Defense and safety net programs.

          You have heard of this, right? It’s been all over the news.

          Anyway, it’s interesting that Mr. Boehner’s site goes on to boast that the Budget Control Act of 2011 doesn’t include any tax hikes.

          So, Republicans got their spending cuts with no additional revenues, and the Democrats “got” the debt ceiling increase. Which is to say, they got nothing at all.

          Republicans and Democrats both voted for the spending that got our government into this mess. Both parties are responsible for the deficit and the need to increase the spending limit. But, Republicans refused to raise revenues and were fully prepared to not vote for the debt limit increase even as our government was approaching the limit.
          You have heard of this, right?

        • paul_gs

          So what’s been cut? To date? Anything?

        • larocquj

          paul_gs, I’m not sure I understand your point. The GOP succeeded in passing into law tax cuts totaling $917 billion over 10 years, and the cuts start in 2012. They managed to do this without concessions on new revenues.

      • Baron Siegfried

        The ‘debt ceiling’ was simply writing the check to pay the bill that congress had already run up . . . there’s a difference between ‘spending more’ ans ‘paying for what you’ve already spent’. This simple inability to take responsibility for their own actions (it was to pay for things that they had voted to authorize) was the final straw for me. They turned a simple procedural vote into high drama, the repercussions of which would have been profound had they succeeded in shutting down the gov’t, and all to score political points with their base. This is both astounding and pathetic.

        • paul_gs

          So when Barack Obama voted against a debt-ceiling increase several years ago, that was fine but when Republicans do the same it is wrong? I don’t understand the difference.

        • think4yourself

          When Obama voted against the debt ceiling he was wrong (and he admitted it).

          As to your point about GOP compromise on the debt ceiling, you are factually correct, but wrong in substance, enough GOP members “blinked” to get the debt ceiling raised. So Foster is correct in that brinkmanship worked. However (to both you and Foster) you are incorrect in that this only meant the GOP erased a line in the sand only put another one an inch away. In other words they missed an opportunity to truly work with the other side to create a bipartisan solution. Instead the GOP has continued to put up roadblocks and are beginning to pay the price politically.

        • paul_gs

          What do you mean, Obama was “wrong”? Do you mean he actually meant to vote FOR the debt ceiling increase? Did he cast his vote incorrectly?

          Anyone can change their mind after the fact but if he voted what he believed to be the correct decision at the time and Republicans voted what they believe to be correct at the time, how can one find fault with either one?

          Or more specifically, why was it OK for Obama to vote as he did (no debt ceiling increase) but it was not ok for the Republicans to vote for no debt ceiling increase?

  • Oldskool

    Terrorism also works as a tactic but who’s going to endorse it? A terrorist’s lawyer!

  • Saladdin

    The old adage about willing to run for office but not willing to govern comes to mind.

  • TerryF98

    Mr Foster,

    As has been proved here many times. You are a terrible lawyer, absolutely hopeless. So I pity your clients. I am guessing you take them for every penny they have.


    • SteveT


      I get the strong feeling that Billing 101 was the only class Howard stayed awake for.

  • Ray_Harwick

    Just how proud are you that brinksmanship works? You must not be in the tax bracket where you’ll miss the $50.00 a month because it buys your bus pass or pays your baby sitter or gets you a tank of gasoline so you can go to work. So this advocacy for playing brinksmanship may be great fun for the lawyer class, but for those working at the day care center taking care of your kids, it’s just plain cruelty.

    • dante

      I’ll gladly pay the $50/month in exchange for the Republicans plummeting in the eyes of the American public… Think of it as my contribution to Obama’s reelection. :)

      • Kevin B

        So would I, if it were just me. But just as I abhor the Republicans wanting Obama to fail, I don’t want the Republicans to fail if it means damaging the country.

        I want them to govern, within certain bounds of decency.

  • dante

    No offense, but you’re failing Game Theory 101 here. You not only have to take into account the fact that you’re playing chicken, you *also* have to take into account priorities of each player (or rather, the consequences for both sides).

    The Senate started the game of brinksmanship/chicken by leaving. They put their car in Drive, put a brick on the accelerator and effectively got out of the car. They’ve stated their position, and literally *can’t* turn back from it. They’re not in session anymore. As the party to act first, they have very deliberately telegraphed their position and stated that they’re not “going to swerve”.

    This puts the House in a difficult spot. If they don’t swerve and there’s a head-on collision (ie, the Payroll tax goes away), the public will blame them, rightly or wrongly. They had all of the information that the Senate was gone for the holiday, and they chose to play chicken with a car with no driver in it. In effect, the Senate (Democrats) won this one before the game even started.

    Knowing this, there’s ZERO incentive for the Senate to come back to work. Why should they, it’s “heads we win, tails you lose.” If the House votes on the 2 month extension, GREAT!!! The Senate Democrats win. If the House *doesn’t* vote on the 2 month extension (and they haven’t *actually* voted on it yet, they voted on another motion to push forward with the negotiation of the year-long bill) and the payroll tax goes away, the Republicans LOSE in the court of public opinion. It’s the “obstructionist Republicans who will vote for a tax cut extension for the rich but not one for the middle class”.

    You’re right, brinksmanship works. But you’re missing who started playing the game first, and who holds the upper hand. The Senate won’t come back, they have no reason to. However, the Senate playing brinksmanship will force the House to come back and vote for the 2 month extension. Just watch…

    • baw1064

      Loved that post!!

      I’ll just note a couple other things:

      1) the House Republicans can’t very well any ensuing car wreck on “the Democrats” given that Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly for the compromise that they seem determined to reject.

      2) The brinksmanship analogy only works if neither side really wants a disaster. The majority of House seats are in safe districts where a Representative’s only chance of getting voted out of office are via a primary challenge (usually by someone further from the center). This applies to both parties. So even if there is a trainwreck, most of them probably keep their jobs. If they do the responsible thing and vote for a compromise to prevent a train wreck, they might not.

      • valkayec

        I’m not so sure. I’m guessing there’s a lot of buyers’ remorse out there about the Tea Party Republicans that were elected. A lot of people are again saying throw everyone out and start all over.

    • ScienceChick

      You’re being deliberately stupid here, Dante. McConnell negotiated the two month extension with Reid AT THE REQUEST of Boehner. There isn’t any gamesmanship about it. The Senate deal is exactly what Boehner asked for – it’s paid for, it has the embarrassing language about the pipeline decision, and it punts the hard questions to after the holidays. The White House got on board. The Senate got the work done and left. All Boehner had to do was tell his caucus what everyone agreed to, so that they could stamp it done and get out of town.

      Which is when the Tea Party had another tantrum…..

    • Solo4114

      Interesting point, and it begs the question:

      What the hell is the House GOP thinking?

      As I see it, there are a few possible answers:

      1.) They aren’t thinking. Or rather, they aren’t thinking clearly. They truly believe they can force the Senate to reconvene, because they don’t recognize that, as you say it, no one is driving the car with which they’re playing chicken. I rather doubt they believe that honestly, though. Ignorant of how DC works though the Tea Party members may be, I think if told by the more experienced guys “That’s not going to happen,” they wouldn’t be counting on it.


      2.) They actually believe they can spin the failure to their advantage. This, I think, is possible. There might be an inversion of the “heads we win, tails you lose” belief at work. The House GOP may believe that if the Senate reconvenes, they win because they bullied the Senate back to the negotiating table. And if the Senate doesn’t return, the House GOP believes (rightly or wrongly) that they can simply make the case that it’s the Senate and Barrack Obama’s fault that the payroll tax didn’t work. The sound bytes I’ve heard recently from Boehner suggest that this may be the case — they all seem to be structured very similarly to the statements made during the debt ceiling standoff earlier this year. “The President needs to work with us…” and such.


      3.) The House GOP recognizes it will take a hit on this, but is willing to take a hit on bad economic results, in the belief that it will ultimately damage Obama more. This being based on the notion that lousy economic numbers = incumbent loss. Thus, they view any victory by the Dems on this as a Pyrrhic victory because it will cost them the White House. In this sense, the House GOP believes that voters will blame Obama for not fixing the thing that the voters ALSO blame the GOP for creating. Net win for the GOP in this scenario (they believe).


      4.) They honestly don’t care if the economy tanks because they are “true believers.” I find this one tougher to buy, simply because I don’t see a consistent, coherent “belief” embodied in the action itself. What ideological end does this serve? I don’t see it as ideologically driven for anyone with a coherent sense of ideology (which is a separate issue entirely….).


      5.) Some combination of the above, held individually among the House GOP members, all leading to the same end result.

  • samgilbert

    I’m hoping the public comes down on the side of a 1 year social security tax cut.

    Of course they will, as long as that’s the only difference that they are exposed to. What’s not being publicized, and the real heart of the disagreement, is what House Republicans are demanding in order to pay for it.

  • Dex

    Boehner is the holder of one of the highest constitutional offices – he is not supposed to behave like an ambulance chaser trying to turn a trumped-up tort into a jackpot for a client so he can skim 40% of it for himself.

  • Lonewolf

    If the writer is indeed a lawyer, he should understand the difference between arguing the law and governing a nation. When a lawyer practises brinksmanship, they put only their client at risk. For better or for worse, as merely the hired help, a lawyer knows there will be other clients, other cases.
    When legislators practise brinksmanship, they endanger an entire nation. There is fundamentally no difference between what the Republicans are doing and a band of hijackers who threaten to blow up a loaded plane on the tarmac. Boehner, MacConnell and their fellow brigands are holding fully 330 million people hostage to their crazed demands. Voters will remember this in 11 months, and the Republican party will be reduced to a ghost.

    • LFC

      Well said. That was the first thing that hit me about Foster’s horrid analogy, but it does put the GOP in perspective. The people who give them money and vote for them are their only “clients”. Anybody who is not a staunch supporter is their opponent. It’s what happens when a political party has zero daylight between lobbying and governing.

  • Sinan

    So the law grad goes home and puts up his shingle. He is the only lawyer in town. Months go by and no one comes to see him, he is broke and despondent. Then a miracle happens. Another law grad moves home and opens up shop across town. Now there are two lawyers in town. Before you know it, they are both working their tales off and having a ball..

  • booch221

    Some old-timers will bring up stories of how LBJ and Everett Dirksen met over drinks and came to terms on things. But the Republicans were a small minority in both houses at the time. Those sessions were really to work out the terms of the Republican capitulation, like Grant and Lee had at Appomattox.

    Or perhaps politics wasn’t as poisonous and partisan back then as it is now days. Also, Eisenhower Republicans weren’t interested in destroying the government like today’s yahoos are. Remember how much landmark legislation Nixon signed?

  • TJ Parker

    I’ve been practicing law for 22 years

    I’m sure your advice will be of great value. Everyone loves bloodsucking lawyers.

    It seems that everyone is deploring the “tactics” of the House Republicans in refusing to pass a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and by doing so, drawing out the standoff until the last minute. Is this the way resolve a dispute? Yes, deadlines force the combatants to make concessions.

    Shh. “The last minute” is an illusion. Its not going to matter much if the tax cut is a day late or a week late or a month late. Except to those who get the blame. The urgency is political, that is all. And the GOP’s public assertion is an incoherent claim that 2 months plus 10 months does not equal 12 months.

  • busboy33

    Does brinksmanship work? Sometimes, yes.

    Does brinksmanship have the very real potential to cast the initiator as the villain? You betcha.

    If the ONLY goal is to try and level some concessions out of the administration, on this one particular issue, then perhaps this is a viable strategy. If the goal is to engender public (voting) support to gain more power in the upcoming election . . . it is failing spectacularly.

    Also, I’d like to mention that by all accounts this wasn’t a “strategy”. This was a blindside of the House leadership. To pretend that now this was the plan all along is laughable.

    The House GOP (and by extension, fair or not, the GOP in general) has two choices: take the loss and pass the 2 month extension, or they can stubbornly refuse to “lose” regardless of the costs. The latter course of action is devastating to the public image of the GOP. Its only upside is feeding alpha-dog egos. Guess which one the House caucus is choosing?

  • icarusr

    You want brinkmanship? Look at North Korean and Iran. When I see Boner and his gang of parliamentary terrorists, that’s what I see – and weep for the Republic.

    The author gives a bad name to lawyers. To the rest here – not all lawyers are this awful as lawyers, and not all of us are stupid enough to draw analogies between governance and litigation. Sheesh.

    • think4yourself

      Great post. North Korea has been a master at brinkmanship. The result is that while they have gotten their way some of the time; except for a few ruling elite, the country is an economic disaster and hated around the world.

      So far the GOP has acted remarkably similar to Kim Jong Il.

  • Dazedandconfused

    Contending in court is a bit more like chess (or perhaps, liars poker?) than this one. This here be a game of chicken, pard.

    I’m not sure if its pure ideology that’s driving the rebels in the House, or if it’s a perception that Obama will fold (yet again). Perhaps both.

    Obama has good reason to believe he is driving a gravel-filled Mac truck on this bout though. At least, it looks like that to the guys at the Wall Street Journal.

  • zaybu

    I can go along with the premise of this article. But then when you look at the fact that the House GOP had attached several riders that were unrelated to the main bill, and that would have ensured defeat in the senate or a veto from the president, with little time remaining in the game, they are very lousy at playing this game.

  • sdspringy

    You have to love the stupidity of the Democrats and of course by extension the same idiots in the media. Of course it helps when the population has the same intellectual level as Afghan goat herders.

    How about the Dems just tell those 160 million people they are soooo worried about to stop contributing to their 401ks. That is the premise of the “tax cut”, removing money from their retirement.

    The payroll tax cut is nothing more than defunding SS. The the Dems could promote an even larger “tax cut”, HEY everyone, reduce your contributions by 5% to your 401ks, that is a full 3% more than the Republicans are willing to give you.

    So that is the finanical advice the Loonie Libs are promoting, stop contributing to your retirement, spend the money NOW, and eat your cat food later. Yep that is great financial advice.

    • jamesj

      Too funny. Great lampoon of modern right wing buffoonery. Where can I find more of your satirical writings?

    • LFC

      Psssst. The Dem proposal raises taxes on the highest incomes to make up the shortfall. Not that you would have heard that on Faux News or from Drugs Limpboy.

  • ZombieTory

    Whether it achieves a desirable settlement or not is peripheral to the issue. The process we’re seeing is erroding the credibility of the American congress. That may be worth the risk for an individual lawyer, but the credibility and good faith of the congress is one of the key pillars supporting the global economy.

    If a lawyer signals that he’s willing to take a matter to trial the worst case is he’s stuck arguing in an uphill battle.

    If the U.S. congress signals that they’re willing to default on American obligations people start selling.

    • valkayec

      Agreed. I watch a lot of CNBC and Bloomberg. The single largest complaint I hear from business people being interviewed is the uncertainty created by this Congress. The debt ceiling debacle scared the heck out of business, causing them lose trust in Congress’ ability to do their job. As a result, businesses don’t feel confident enough about what is going to happen to start spending.

      • jamesj

        I wrote a long response to you detailing a fascinating shift I am seeing in fellow business owners recently. Unfortunately, my recent exchange with one specific business owner including him calling the freshmen Republicans in the House a bunch of [derogatory slur for homosexuals]. I quoted him as using that term and I guess the content filter axed my post. Understandable. At any rate, rest assured that people who traditionally hold right wing political views are beginning to become highly critical of the lack of compromise in Congress, and they are even starting to point fingers in a direction they never point, at Republican politicians. I doubt it will make much difference in the voting booth, but it sure is interesting to take a peak at the psychology behind the scenes and see cracks forming.

  • jamesj

    The effectiveness of a tactic in forcing concessions should not be the sole criteria for deciding whether to use that tactic. What about moral concerns, respect for the precedent/history/reputation of the institution, and the good of the country?

    After a while it begins to feel like we don’t have two honest combatants. Instead, it feels like we have one combatant working in earnest and a second combatant working only for selfish goals at the expense of the nation. The ability of some to editorialize in favor of this second more selfish, more short-sighted, more counterproductive tactical stance is quite vulgar.

  • nitrat

    OK, we know that this kind of stuff is why our credit got downgraded by S & P and we need to keep it up?

    Only if you are a member of a political party that wants to tank the economy because you think it will sweep you into complete control of the government. Then, you can rebuild the economy just the way the Kochs, sons of a John Birch founder, want you to.

    Oh, yeah.

  • armstp

    The Republicans are clearly trying to torpedo the economy ahead of the 2012 election, particularly those in safe districts. So there is no way many of them will vote for a renewed cut in the payroll tax. They have done nothing but try and torpedo the economy for the last two years.

    • Baron Siegfried

      And for some reason seem to think that no one sees what they’re doing. This has GOT to be the worst case of insular thought I’ve ever seen. The real hard core only takes input from approved sources, who encourage them to greater excesses. They don’t talk to people who disagree with them, and no one is willing to bring up politics around them as they’re so disagreeable.

      As such, when the ‘lamestream media’ reports that the American people are not amused at the conservative antics, they don’t believe it. Fox news & the bobblehead brigade shrilly defend them as being subject to ‘liberal attacks’. Since Fox et al are the only ones who ever tell the truth (because everyone else is part of the liberal establishment)(they know this because Fox tells them so), they’re not concerned with what the rest of the country thinks. They’re tribal, and if you’re not in their tribe, then you don’t count . . .

    • paul_gs

      Torpedo the economy? How would that help Republicans? It makes no sense.

      And why do lefties all repeat this same nonsense? Can’t you see how ridiculous your claim sounds armstp?

      • LFC

        I’m having trouble believing that you’re really that ignorant of politics, but I’ll take a swing at it.

        - Massive recession occurs under Bush and in no small part due to GOP policies.

        - Over a year later Obama becomes President.

        - Quickly, Republicans start blaming Obama for the massive and now world wide mess.

        - Republicans attempt to block all of Obama’s policies for getting the economy back on track.

        - In late 2012, they blame all of the economic problems on Obama in hopes that people believe them and propel their candidate (who, other than Ron Paul, pretty much want to continue Bush’s policies) into the White House.

        Got it?

      • think4yourself

        @ Paul: “Torpedo the economy? How would that help Republicans? It makes no sense”

        Let me help you. (1) Obama is liked personally even by people who are not happy about the direction of the country. (2) He get’s higher marks than Congress or the GOP on almost any question (3) The economy (and specifically the unemployment rate) is driving people’s primary concern.

        Therefore, for the GOP to beat the President (Mitch McConnell’s stated goal), the only way that happens is if unemployment stays high and/or the economy does much worse.

        IF Obama loses to a GOP President and IF there is sweep the bums out and GOP takes 60 seats in the Senate, then the GOP has the freedom to try and enact all that they want like (1) Repeal healthcare (2) Lower taxes on top income earners/capital gains (3) Rollback Roe V. Wade with legislation, Rollback gay friendly legislation (4) Hope that the Ginsburg, Breyer and Kennedy – all in their mid 70′s can be replaced (the most important outcome of all).

        And you think the GOP wouldn’t be willing for the US public to endure a worse economy for a year or two if that were the possible outcome?

  • lilmanny

    Foster gets a harder hearing than he deserves with these posts.

    I think his analogy is good, though I can only translate it as I took it. The problem the GOP has is that they have the ultimate difficult client – the base – who demands all sorts of absurdities. The brinkmanship we see is only because their “client” demands it. However, the “mediation” portion of the analogy breaks down. Mediations have another name in the world of politics – “smoke filled backrooms” – and they have been roundly tossed away. The base will “fire” any “counsel” who does not enter the courtroom raving and spittle flecked, slamming chairs, hurling objections, pointing fingers to the Almighty God and thundering home about nothing in particular.

    • zaybu

      Good point.

      Like MAD, this kind of brinkmanship assumes that both sides are rational. In the case of the present GOP being rational, the verdict is not good at all… more like down frightening.

  • TerryF98

    Boehner Caves, looks like brinkmanship sucks when you loose.

  • think4yourself

    Brinkmanship – spoken like a true ambulance chaser.

    “Let’s see how much we can screw the other side to get what we want.”

    Well, if the goal is to be at continually at war and charge the same “Hamburger Hill”, over and over than brinkmanship is a good solution. If your goal is to recognize that the belief’s of both sides have merit and look to craft solutions that work for both sides, than bipartisanship is better path.

    What partisans (and apparently attorney’s) forget is that in a war, all sides suffer casualties and eventually one or both sides will lose. In business, mutual agreements tend to work out better long term.

  • dante

    By the way, “brinksmanship” worked – the House just folded like a cheap camera…

  • Rossg

    The House GOP tried to make this out as the Senate’s fault. In fact, the House GOP allowed themselves to be out-maneuvered, and they are embarrassed by their mistake.