Republicans are promising to block the raising of the federal debt limit--which could cause the U.S. to default on its debt--if Democrats don't offer major concessions on spending cuts and long term measures to change the way the federal budget is crafted. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Republicans "will not grant their request for a debt limit increase" without big concessions from Democrats, "a clear escalation in the long-running Washington spending war," Politico's Jake Sherman and Jonathan Allen report.
But as lawmakers are zinging at each other, the deadline to actually do something is quickly approaching. Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a letter to Congress that the government would hit the debt ceiling as early as May 16. (Cantor has said the date is really in July.) But CNS News's Terence P. Jeffrey reports that it's coming a lot earlier than that--in less than a week. Right now, the limit is $14.2940 trillion. As of Tuesday, Treasury had borrowed $14.268365 trillion. That means it only has $25.6 billion more it can borrow before it hits the limit.
And Sen. Bob Corker vowed on CBNC that the weeks-long fight over the 2011 budget would look "powder puff" compared to the upcoming war over the debt limit. But legislators might have less time than they think to zing each other before the Treasury slams into the borrowing cap.
Republicans are considering several measures to attach to the debt limit vote, including a balanced budget amendment, a rule requiring a two-thirds supermajority to pass tax and debt limit increases, and spending caps. Democrats, on the other hand, want a "clean" bill, without policy riders.
Cantor's comments came the day after he was picked for a presidential task force for debt limit negotiations, but Republicans aren't the only ones escalating the spending rhetoric. President Obama told a Facebook townhall Wednesday that the Republican budget for 2012 is "radical" but not "courageous" in the way it would change Medicare and Medicaid.