I turn now to master thespian Keanu Reeves for one strategy for dealing with hostage-takers.
From the 1994 film Speed:
Harry Temple: Alright, pop quiz. Airport, gunman with a hostage. He's using her for cover. He's almost to a plane. You're one hundred feet away.
[Jack doesn't respond]
Harry Temple: Jack?
Jack: Shoot the hostage.
Harry Temple: What?
Jack: Take her out of the equation. Go for the good wound and he can't get to the plane with her. Clear shot.
Taken to the extreme, one could call it the Keyser Soze method, after the shadowy underworld figure who reportedly shot his own family when someone tried to use them as hostages against them.
So, how would one go about shooting the hostage in negotiations with Republicans? Let's use the budget as an example. When the GOP throws out a number for cuts, then makes that number bigger and adds unrelated policy riders, the counteroffer that should be proffered is to accept some of the policy riders with a price tag applied; if Republicans want to defund NPR and other junk ideas, then Democrats should agree...as long as we take back a lot of the budget cuts, agree to raise taxes to raise revenue, and maybe pour some of that money into high-speed rail.