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Fiscal Cliff: Watching the Rules of Negotiating

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(credit: AP)

(credit: AP)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

My dad taught me many important lessons when it came to buying a car.

Try to buy at the end of the month, as salespeople are looking to fulfill a quota. Shop for cars during bad weather as buyer competition will shrink. And in the end, you keep the power in the conversation by always being willing to walk away.

The rules change when you are negotiating the fiscal policy of the United States, but the goal remains the same. Both parties are simply trying to get the very best deal possible and will employ every strategy possible in order to get it.

I think few Americans truly believe that either the President or House Republicans really want to see automatic cuts to programs or tax increases to take place on January 1st, 2013. Non-partisan economists that both parties trust all predict major economic problems if government officials let that happen.

However, there is still an entire month left to take advantage of every negotiating tactic possible, and we are watching every one of them from both sides.

If you took each side at their word right now, you would not have much confidence in any deal ever getting done. Both are saying that they are far from any deal and that the other party refuses to give any consideration to major points.

This is the equivalent of the car salesman going to talk to his manager.

If you put yourself in the shoes of either the President or of House Republicans, you could quickly imagine that agreeing to a deal right now, before real sweat beads form on your opponents brow, would surely make you feel that you left money on the table.

The better strategy would be to wait and make your opponent blink first.

A ticking clock and worried electorate will apply pressure to both sides to give on certain issues. Of course, there are some deal breakers, but overall both sides know that a deal will get done. But both sides don’t want to give in too early.

This might seem cruel for those Americans who are truly worried that we may tumble off the fiscal cliff like the yodeling guy from “Cliffhangers”. But sadly, their tension is just another tool in the negotiation.

And before you decide who is to blame for making Americans nervous, remember that both sides profit from this tension.

And, with the electorate as divided as it is right now, neither party would be successful in blaming the other side very well.

So instead of worrying that we are about to fall off a fiscal cliff, sit back and enjoy the fine examples of negotiating skills being displayed.

You never know, you may learn something that you can use when buying your next car.

Just don’t count on the salesman caving under the pressure caused by the stock market cratering from you leaving the showroom. It might not work for you that way, I’m just saying.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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