A crisis is a terrible thing to waste and Democrats seem not to have wasted the fiasco over shutting down the government to defund Obamacare.  But the greater crisis is yet to come and this provides an opportunity for Democrats and the Obama Administration to really get tough. The debt default is rapidly approaching, and that means the time is now for draconian tactics to defang the intransigent Republicans.

Thus far there is only one “tuff boy” on the lot, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, and he had successfully parried every attempt by House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans to surrender by partially reopening the government.  But a week into the shutdown, few people are really hurting, and virtually none represented by the GOP’s wing of tea party anarchists.  It is time for No Drama Obama to show some backbone and make them hurt.  He needs to become “tuff boy.”

One of the tea party Republicans from Kansas said quite accurately that no one in his district was feeling the shutdown, so he was under no pressure to end the charade.  That’s true.  For all the outraged New York Times editorials and vamping talking heads on MSNBC, these people are talking to each other and putting no pressure on the Republicans.

But Kansas has airports; in fact, Wichita’s airport is called Mid-Continent Airport and serves much of the rural Middle West. If we are having a government shutdown, why is this airport essential?  It’s not, so why doesn’t No Drama Obama make some drama and pull all the TSA security out of every airport that does not serve international travel, thus shutting them all down.  The tea party Republicans represent small town and rural America, their regional airports are their lifeblood; close them and the tea party anarchists will learn that shutting down government does have consequences.

By now it is clear that the debt limit will probably not be raised by October 17.  This will set off much hysteria about worldwide default, although the reality is that there are plenty of ways to avoid default.  Eighty four percent of expenditures are paid for by tax revenues; 16 percent by borrowing.  So it makes economic, and especially political sense, to sharply cut expenditures so that the need for borrowing is mitigated while the default crisis plays out.  Obama and Reid can made a compelling case that massive cutting is necessary.

Any demographic analysis will show that tea party Republicans represent old and white voters, because the tea party is basically grumpy old white males (and their wives).  Generation Xers and millennials do not vote Republican; the GOP vote is concentrated in the older electorate, and in rural, small town America.   So on October 17 Obama should suspend all Social Security payments without exception.  He should also suspend all payments to Medicare providers – the tea party voters use Medicare far more than the average voter.  And of course all veterans’ benefits should be suspended; again this will hit older people and tea party types.  Closing regional airports, cancelling Social Security, and stopping Medicare payments will let the tea party know that its own people are going to suffer the most.  Then let’s just see how much they like the government shutting down and America going broke.

The Administration made a smart first step in this direction by closing the national parks as part of the current shutdown.  Tiny Mariposa County in the Sierras is probably suffering more than any other California county from the shutdown because so much of its economy is based on tourism at Yosemite.  That’s closed now, and Mariposa is in the district of a prime tea party loyalist, Rep. Tom McClintock.  The county voted for him in 2012; there is plenty of reason they should not do so in 2014.

Farther north, the popular Lake Davis fishing grounds are closed in Plumas County, represented by another tea party supporter, Rep. Doug LaMalfa. That means no fall trout fishing in the town of Portola, and no one in the motels and camp grounds, and no fishermen buying groceries, bait and beer (you cannot fish without beer).

The tea party Republicans think only federal workers in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs are suffering from their antics, and only Wall Street bankers and Chinese bond holders will suffer if the debt limit is not raised.  That does not have to be the case.  In September, President Obama was rolled by the Russians on Syria and by his own Democrats on his choice for Fed chairman.  He has been too weak and consequently is not respected.  The debt crisis will provide him a chance to reverse that weakness both in perception and in reality.  He and the Democrats should not pass it up.