Republican Sen. Jim DeMint said Wednesday that Republicans in the House and Senate were working an alternate plan to raise the debt limit to the one Sen. Mitch McConnell proposed on Tuesday, and argued that "this idea that Republicans will not vote to increase the debt limit is wrong."
Tacitly dismissing McConnell's controversial plan, which would authorize President Obama to raise the debt ceiling three times before the end of 2012 with the contingency that he submit a list of commensurate spending cuts, DeMint, in a Wednesday appearance on CBS' "The Early Show," spoke of a proposal he and other Republican lawmakers were preparing on the side.
"We're going to introduce a plan that would give the president an increase in the debt limit but it's contingent on cutting spending and capping spending over several years, and giving the states the opportunity to decide if we're going to balance our budget in the next decade," the South Carolina Republican said. "It's a very reasonable proposal, but I think you'll see that coming out of the House over the next few days."
Republican lawmakers are split on McConnell's plan, which would, while allowing them to avoid voting to raise the debt limit, also essentially cede authority to the president on the matter. (While Mr. Obama would have to submit a list of tax cuts matching his debt increases, he would not be required to enact them.)
DeMint said in a radio interview Tuesday night that McConnell's plan "is going nowhere" - and emphasized on Wednesday that there are alternate paths to getting a deal done.
Still, whether or not this Republican proposal has any chance of gaining traction among Democrats remains to be seen; DeMint suggested that tax increases - a primary matter of contention in the talks, and one that's at least partially responsible for the repeatedly stalled nature of the negotiations - would be excluded from the legislation.
"History tells us that the only way to raise revenues is to get the economy going again, and one of the worst things you can do to the economy is to increase taxes on small business, which is the group that's in this category that the president is talking about," DeMint argued. "If they insist on taxes, again, it's just for political reasons."
He also called on Mr. Obama to submit his latest plan in writing.
"[Mr. Obama] has not made any proposal in writing to deal with entitlements and to deal with any specific cuts," DeMint said. "So, the president talks a lot, but we can't vote on a speech."