There are only two ways of getting anything done in Washington: You can "drive" legislation through or you can make a "deal," writes former New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu in the Boston Globe. To use the "drive" technique, the party leadership in both houses lend their full support as they “relentlessly pursue a piece of legislation as their top priority." Explains Sununu, "Under such an all-out scenario, these leaders calculate that the political and policy benefits from pursuing—and perhaps passing—legislation will outweigh the potential risks of a failed effort." One example: health care reform.
By contrast, under the “deal” approach the president and leaders from both parties make a “formal commitment to negotiate toward a final policy agreement.” We saw that this month with the president’s tax cut deal with the GOP. "With a divided Congress and a presidential campaign on the way," drives will be all but impossible next year—but the tax deal shows the way forward when it comes to the deficit and entitlement reform, writes Sununu. Let’s hope Obama recognizes that it's "the deal," and not his powers of personal persuasion or savvy tactics, that led to his last success, and chooses the right—meaning same—method going forward.