Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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On March 1, 2013, if Congress does not come its senses, the dreaded sequester is going to take effect. For those who do not follow closely all of the machinations of Congressional budget negotiations, here is a brief recap of how we got here: On August 2, 2011, as a compromise measure to prevent the government from defaulting on its debt obligations, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. That statute required Congress to agree to certain levels of deficit reduction measures over the next ten years. If they could not agree, a package of automatic spending cuts, half to defense and half to domestic spending, would take effect on January 1, 2013. The important thing to understand about […]

Here is an excerpt from former President Bill Clinton’s nominating speech at the Democratic convention last night, extolling the virtues of cooperation over constant conflict (The full transcript of the speech, as delivered, can be found here): [T]hough I often disagree with Republicans, I actually never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate our president and a lot of other Democrats. That would be impossible for me, because President Eisenhower sent federal troops to my home state to integrate Little Rock Central High School. President Eisenhower built the interstate highway system. When I was a governor, I worked with President Reagan in his White House on the first round of welfare reform and with […]

Is a willingness to negotiate a sign of weakness? That seems to be the thrust of the critique of Thomas Frank, the latest prominent leftist critic of the Obama administration. Frank charges that Obama gave away too much to the right, because he stressed the importance of bi-partisanship, when he should have been fighting harder on substantive issues, such as punishing Wall Street bankers, or achieving more economic stimulus. Frank seems to think because the president placed the ideal of bi-partisanship above these other policy goals, he was forced to concede too much to the opposition. The idea is that Obama’s emphasis on bi-partisanship makes him a bad negotiator. Frank thinks that if you announce agreement with them in a cooperative way, that will make […]