I understand that using the debt ceiling to hold the nation hostage may be all the leverage they have, and if "they" were China, or Russia, or al Qaeda, or some other American adversary, that tactic might be perfectly reasonable. But "they" are the Republicans in Congress, and if they actually think they have something to gain politically by either forcing the nation into default or by shutting down the federal government, they are not just unpatriotic, they are fucking idiots.
Only Congress can raise the debt ceiling, and if Republicans choose not to, voters will know exactly who to blame for the consequences.
Of course, President Obama does have an out. I know all the serious people roll their eyes at the Trillion-Dollar Coin scenario, but it is legal, practical, and despite knee-jerk concerns to the contrary, no more inflationary than simply issuing more debt. It turns out, there are some problems you can just throw money at. Plus, unlike debt, taxpayers don't have to pay interest on the money. Such a deal!
I really wish Obama had the balls to mint the coin and shove it up Congress's ass. And as a final touch of irony, he should stamp Ronald Reagan's image on it.