Republicans Debate Their Ransom Demand For Next Hostage-Taking Opportunity

| Thu May 16, 2013 6:01 PM EDT

Lori Montgomery reports today that House Republicans no longer plan to block a debt-limit increase that would force the government into default. Hooray! They do plan to ask for a pound of flesh in return, though. But what? They met yesterday to spitball some ideas:

At the meeting, 39 lawmakers lined up at microphones to offer suggestions. They ranged from tax and entitlement reform to approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to passage of a bill that would require congressional approval for any federal regulation that would impose more than $100 million in new costs on business.

At least one person wanted to take on late-term abortion in the wake of the conviction of Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell. Others suggested repeal or delay of Obama’s health-care initiative. But for the most part, lawmakers tried to be “realistic,” aides said, suggesting measures that could reasonably be expected to both improve the economy and pass the Democratic Senate.

Well, I'm glad to hear that Republicans plan on being realistic—though the fact that they're discussing this at all implies that they are, in fact, willing to block a debt limit increase and force the government into default. You can't have it both ways, after all. A hostage only does you any good if you make a credible threat to shoot him unless the ransom is paid.

So let's make one thing clear: President Obama would be insane to even hint that he's willing to bargain over this. That would institutionalize the whole idea that the debt ceiling should be a grand hostage-taking tool every time it comes up. This time around, he just needs to say no, and stick to it. I'm even willing to toss my principles in the gutter and go the trillion-dollar platinum coin route if that turns out to be the only option available. Enough's enough.