More On Progressive Bargaining: Bad Bluffs
Nate Silver provides an intelligent and cogent response to my post on political bargaining. Silver disagrees with my comparison of the union bargaining on the excise tax with progressive bargaining for, to take the most obvious example, a public insurance program:
Armando brings up the counter-example of the unions who, he claims, "were willing to 'kill the bill' unless they received major concession on the excise tax issue" and indeed received "major concessions." Let's look at this case, because it turns out to be pretty instructive. I can think of at least three fundamental differences. First, the unions were worried about something -- a tax -- that was more linear in nature than something like a public option. [. . .] Secondly -- and this is the much more important point -- the unions could make a much more credible threat to walk away from the bill. [. . .] Finally, the unions actually had the more, rather than the less, nimble position. It's not clear that they directly threatened to kill the bill, for instance; they simply made clear to the White House that they would be very unhappy if the excise tax was not scaled down and let the White House fill in the blanks.
I do not find these distinctions persuasive. First, a public insurance program option on the exchanges is concrete and as seemingly malleable as adjustments to an excise tax. Second, why is it that unions could make a much more credible threat to walk away than progressives? Third, it is simply wrong to believe that the unions were not blocking passage of the Senate bill without an excise tax fix. More . . .
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