In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Are Republicans Bluffing About The Debt Ceiling?


The word "guarantees" is doing a lot of work there. It could imply real, immediate changes in law, or aspirational stuff -- spending caps or other measures that only have as much force of law as the political system will allow.

Cantor didn't draw a line when asked.

He also didn't say exactly what Republicans would ask for in return for raising the debt limit. But he listed a few ideas.

All the things that we have talked about need to be considered here. One certainly is spending caps both on the discretionary spending side and the mandatory side. There are other proposals out there to balance the budget, constitutional amendments and then some. I was just with Senator Mike Lee [R-UT] last night and he indicated they have a bill over there. I haven't taken a look at it, but I understand that it has got a lot of these provisions in it.

That's a range of options from conservative wish list stuff like slashing entitlements, to pie in the sky political non-starters like a balanced budget amendment. Those are huge price tags if you've already signaled that you're not ready to let the country spiral into economic oblivion in order to get your way. Listen closely over the next several weeks as Republicans clarify what their ransom is. That'll say everything about how aware they are of the weak hand they've dealt themselves in these negotiations.

About The Author


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at