The GOP's negotiating strategy

Rep. Eric Cantor, the number two Republican in the Congress, has now joined his leader, House Speaker John Boehner, in calling for President Barack Obama's health reform law to be put on the table in the debate over how to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Until now , the two issues were pretty clear: Increased tax revenue from the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans in return for cutting entitlement programs.

Adding Obamacare to the mix is a classic negotiating tactic. When you are losing the negotiation, put another chip on the table.

Messrs. Cantor and Boehner are taking this route despite evidence from sources like the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that suggests Obamacare will actually reduce the deficit.

But If that is what the GOP leadership wants to do, then the Democrat leadership should follow suit and add a chip of their own.

Here is a suggestion for that chip. The U.S. is fast on its way to becoming the top oil and gas producer in the world. It is agreed by all that we should do all we can to be independent of foreign oil. So the Democrats could propose placing a high tariff on all exported oil and gas.

How do you think the Republican representatives and governors of oil producing states like Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, the Dakotas and Pennsylvania would respond to that proposal? Not go so well, I suspect.

Democrats should say to the GOP: "Tell you what — you pull Obamacare off the table and we will pull this oil export proposal off the table. Happy now?"

Mel Mintz, Pikesville

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