Sen. John Cornyn raised an interesting procedural argument yesterday on “Fox News Sunday.” In reference to the debt-reduction talks, the Texas Republican said:

“Let’s do it in the light of day, not in secret behind closed door negotiation, only to spring it on the American people at the last moment to say, you know what, it’s this, take or leave it, or else there’s financial calamity.”

About a week ago, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) raised the same point. “We might as well stake it out publicly to see what the disagreements are,” Sessions said. He added Democrats are afraid to “reveal their vision for the future,” in large part because it includes additional revenue. “What they’re advocating for,” Sessions concluded, “I don’t think would be popular.”

Wouldn’t it be interesting if Dems called Republicans’ bluff on this?

It’s possible guys like Cornyn and Sessions believe their own press releases, and I hate to ruin their fun, but the fact of the matter is the American mainstream would recoil if they had any idea what Republicans are up to.

The hostage strategy itself — Republicans will crash the economy on purpose unless Democrats give them what they want — is so offensive, it deserves to be a genuine national scandal. Indeed, it’s often hard to believe policymakers who claim to be patriots are deliberately putting us all at risk this way.

But even if we put that aside for a moment, the Republican ransom list isn’t popular at all. The GOP wants Medicare cuts and brutal reductions to popular domestic priorities like education and health care, without asking for any sacrifices at all from the wealthy and powerful. Democrats want a balanced approach (some spending cuts, some tax increases), reductions in military spending, and ending tax breaks for industries like Big Oil, without touching Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Cornyn and Sessions think their party would benefit from a more transparent process? These guys need to get out more.

“Let’s do it in the light of day”? I don’t imagine this will go over well with any of the key players, but Dems would be lucky if voters were aware of what the parties are bringing to the table.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.