Let Them Sequester
The GOP thinks they have the upper hand in the upcoming fight over the debt by simply letting the sequester kick in. But as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted yesterday, as a result of the budget cuts and tax deals of 2011-2012, we only need $1.4 trillion more in debt reduction to stabilize our long-term debt situation relative to GDP. This undermines all of the hot-air desk-pounding you hear from the deficit scolds on TV or inside the Beltway.
So if the GOP wants to threaten Obama with the sequester, he can simply say "do it". As the CBPP noted,
If, for instance, one assumes that policymakers will let the “sequestration” take effect, then they would have to find only an additional $257 billion in deficit savings to stabilize the debt.
There's no reason for any debt ceiling hostage taking to gut Social Security and Medicare (which are both exempted from the sequester).
When the GOP starts pounding the table in early February to demand entitlement cuts by mid-month to avoid a default, he can say "Nope, sorry, not going to be rushed to do something not necessary. We'll just let the cuts take place at the end of the month, and then I'll come back and reform entitlements in a deliberate way and reform taxes to better share the load and fund our critical priorities."
And if the GOP still wants to threaten default after that, they can explain that to Wall Street and our seniors.