With less than two days before the government shuts down and two weeks before the country breaches the debt ceiling, official Washington is consumed with the latest government-by-cliffhanger storyline that has been de rigueur since Republicans took over the House of Representatives after the 2010 election. Now, the "negotiation" is over the Affordable Care Act, with Republicans initially demanding its repeal (never mind that it was duly enacted, blessed by the Supreme Court and "affirmed" in the 2012 election) and now asking for its delay in exchange for, depending on who you talk to, anything from a mere 2 month extension to government funding to ensuring the full faith and credit of the United States government.
The media, as is their wont, give credence to this absurdity by describing these events through the classic "Washington is broken" lens, where "both sides do it," and can't come to agreement. Never mind the weird coincidence that these hostage taking events only happen when a Democrat occupies the White House or that debt increases occur with far more regularity under Republican Presidents than Democratic ones, I have a simple suggestion for the President - let the Republicans shoot the hostage. Stop being the adult in the room. Send the following two bills to Congress, announce that you will no longer negotiate with those who would rather burn our economy to the ground than make economic progress, get in Marine One and leave town until the bills are signed:
1. Pass an omnibus piece of legislation funding the government for all of Fiscal Year 2014 at current budget levels (a concession in and of itself, as it would solidify the so-called "sequester" level funding).
2. Pass a one-line extension of the debt ceiling to an amount that will cover government borrowing through the remainder of the President's term in office.
If the shutdown occurs, the debt ceiling breached, the President should be prepared to be on television, often and as much as necessary, to remind people where the blame should be placed. The only way to stop hostage takers is to stop negotiating.