What Do Republicans Want in Exchange for A Debt Limit Vote?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 12 2011 3:40 PM

What Do Republicans Want in Exchange for A Debt Limit Vote?

They aren't quite saying yet. Earlier today, Majority Whip Eric Cantor seemed to indicate that Republicans were looking for the best way to see something that no one really wants. Republicans look at the limit vote as "cleaning up the spilt milk, mess, of financial mismanagement" -- and split milk has to be Shamwow'd up, eventually.

"What we owe to our constituents is a guarantee that we won't let spending get out of control," he said. "That's why we are dedicated to making sure that this vote is connected to real reforms necessary to getting a better result going forward."

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Okay: What reforms? Cantor wouldn't say that Republicans needed the Ryan budget (sorry, the Path to Prosperity) in order to vote on the limit; he would only say that he wanted a "commitment" to tackling entitlements. That can be a very easy thing for Democrats to do, considering what President Obama will say about entitlements tomorrow. Anything more specific?

"One, certainly, is spending caps, both on the discretionary side and on the mandatory side," said Cantor. "There are other proposals out there to balance the budget -- constitutional amendments and then some. I was just with Sen. Mike Lee last night, and he indicated that he had a bill up there. I haven't taken a look at it, but he indicated that it had these provisions in there."

Lee has proposed a balanced budget amendment, and has talked about filibustering the debt limit vote. Fox News's Chad Pergram went further on this, pointing out that Cantor, in 2010, had promised to hold a "clean" debt vote. Not so.

"The context in which we made that pledge, an up or down vote, was in the context that we used to have that vote hidden in a rule."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.