What Would Republicans Say If Democrats Tried Extortion, Too?

Negotiation occurs when two parties stake out principled positions and work together to achieve reasonable compromise. Sometimes one party has more bargaining power and may negotiate a favorable deal. But extortion occurs when a person uses coercion–threats of harm–to establish bargaining power where none otherwise exists. Raising the federal debt ceiling is a routine administrative function required to meet obligations already approved by Congress, an act necessary for the economic survival of our country, not one that naturally favors any political party’s principled beliefs. The Republicans’ threat to hold the debt ceiling vote hostage–to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States if the majority party doesn’t agree to deficit reduction measures exactly as a minority of the minority party dictates–is extortion.

This is not a tactic reasonable, law-abiding people use, and the Democrats are partly to blame for even showing up at the bargaining table with terrorists. Perhaps President Obama saw an opportunity to force both sides to compromise and achieve a grand deficit reduction bargain that might be impossible to negotiate without the looming threat of economic Armegeddon. Unfortunately, the Tea Party somehow sees blowing up the world as a problem only for Democrats and has mistaken a finger on the trigger for principled leverage over their opponents. Reasonable Republicans like John McCain recognize this tactic as insane, maybe because he knows the Democrats could just as easily use the same chaos strategy to achieve their goals.

Imagine President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid lunching at the White House, shaking their heads at the legacy of George W. Bush and his Republican Congress–converting a Clinton era budget surplus into an unprecedented build-up in federal debt via unfunded tax cuts favoring the rich, an unfunded Medicare prescription drug benefit favoring pharmaceutical companies, two unfunded wars, and an economic crisis fueled by Republican deregulation. They agree this Bush debt needs to be reduced, but can’t fathom spending cuts born by the poor and middle class, their constituents, to pay for economic benefits that primarily benefitted the wealthy, Republican constituents, over the past ten years.

Maybe Senator Reid leans over the exquisite china and says, “You know, Mr. President, we can make those Republican muckety-mucks pay their bill if we refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless they agree to tax increases that will cover the Bush era unfunded debt. We don’t need to compromise on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security at all! The stock market would plummet, and their constituents would go crazy.”

Chew on that.

2 comments on “What Would Republicans Say If Democrats Tried Extortion, Too?

  1. I agree totally. Why don’t the reasonable people become politicians?
    btw, I am a friend of Frances Clark, and will be reading your book soon.

  2. Thanks, Danita. Maybe voters who paid attention to the Tea Party as sort of a protest will wise up in 2012. Hope you enjoy the book!

Leave a Reply

  • Larry and Ellie Kahn

  • When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2010, my neurologist told me there was nothing I could do to slow down an inevitable slide into disability. So I simply (apathetically?) went about the business of researching my third novel for over a year until I crossed paths with others who had discovered a curiously overlooked goldmine of scientific research suggesting vigorous exercise could help slow the progression of PD and improve quality of life.


    After experiencing the impact of exercise myself, my wife, Ellie, and I began brainstorming with other believers about how to effectively spread the gospel of exercise and hope.  We formed PD Gladiators in 2013, a nonprofit charged with developing a plan to ally metro Atlanta fitness instructors and clinicians to convince people with PD to take a proactive approach to managing their disease. PD Gladiators entered agreements with the Atlanta YMCA, Livramento Delgado Boxing Foundation, Yellow River Center and other independent fitness instructors to build a network of PD-specific exercise classes based on PD Gladiators’ promise to promote the exercise research and the PD Gladiators Fitness Network to local clinicians to create the referral “pipeline” necessary to make the adapted fitness programs sustainable. I believe recruiting the support of influential clinicians in our community from the start was the critical insight that has led to the phenomenal growth of the Network.


    By 2018, the Network consisted of over 60 weekly classes, and metro Atlanta “gladiators” logged almost 25,000 class visits for the year! On August 1, 2018, the Parkinson’s Foundation and PD Gladiators determined they could better serve the needs of the Parkinson’s community through an organizational unification. Ellie and I served on the Advisory Board for the Parkinson’s Foundation Georgia until retiring in October 2019. PD Gladiators Executive Director Annie Long continues to manage and grow the Network as an employee of the Parkinson’s Foundation.


    Ellie and I still practice the proactive, hopeful approach that we  preach. With Ellie’s loving support, I exercise daily, eat a nutritious diet supplemented as recommended by Dr. Laurie Mischley (a Parkinson’s researcher and naturopathic doctor practicing in Seattle), and have adopted good sleep habits. While excited to begin the retirement we had deferred to nurture PD Gladiators, I intend to devote some of my energy–without stress and deadlines–to brainstorm ideas for other areas of Parkinson’s care in need of intervention  for consideration by government and charitable organizations with the mission and resources to undertake these projects.


    I believe that problem-solving is a team sport, and I encourage you to join in the discussion. Let’s make Parkinson’s Ideas, Man an incubator for high impact solutions to the issues that effect us most.