The Michale Corleone school of political bargaining.
The debt ceiling [...] is proving a key sticking point, both in terms of politics and policy [in the fiscal cliff/austeritybomb negotiations. The political problem is that many Hill Republicans have convinced themselves that they’ll have the upper hand if they let the country topple fully or mostly over the cliff and then restart negotiations with a debt default looming in the background. They figure that although Obama really is willing to let the country go over the cliff, he’s not willing to let the country default and spark a global financial crisis. They are willing to do that, or they believe they can more credibly say they are, and that gives them leverage.
Whatever House Republicans might think, the White House is all steel when it comes to the debt ceiling. Their position is simple, and it’s typically delivered in the tone of voice that Bruce Willis reserves for talking to terrorists: They’re happy to raise the debt ceiling on their own, as would be the case under their proposal to take authority for the debt ceiling away from Congress. But if Congress rejects that offer, then the debt ceiling is Congress’s problem, and the White House will not help.
I'm older than Ezra by more than a little, so the cinematic image that leaps into my brain is not Bruce Willis but rather Michael Corleone
, in The Godfather, Part 2
(You tube here
[Geary is demanding a large bribe for a gaming license]
Senator Pat Geary: I want your answer and the money by noon tomorrow. And one more thing. Don't you contact me again, ever. From now on, you deal with Turnbull.
Michael Corleone: Senator? You can have my answer now, if you like. My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.
President Obama would appreciate if John Boehner would deal with the debt limit now. But absent that, his offer is nothing. A far cry from August 2011. FWIW, President Clinton took the same approach
when the GOP voiced the idea of holding the debt ceiling hostage in 1995:
On November 9, 1995, a senior administration official told the Washington Post, “Our position is it does not matter what they put on this legislation, we are not going to accept anything but clean bills because we will not be blackmailed over default. Get it? No extortion. No blackmail. What you hear are their screams of complaint as they realize we are not, not, not budging on this.