Donald Lambro

Obama's tax-raising proposals would worsen our fiscal situation. His plan to raise taxes on incomes over $200,000 would hit tens of thousands of small businesses struggling to survive, and wouldn't make a dent in this year's $1.6 trillion deficit. Slapping manufacturers and corporations, such as oil companies, with higher taxes would shrink domestic production, yield less revenue and worsen the budget.

Throw in Obamacare, which is driving up state Medicaid costs and private insurance premiums. Raising business expenses that force job cuts would result in less revenue to pay the government's bills.

Until now, Republican leaders believed that just the threat of not raising the debt ceiling would force Obama to drop his insistence that higher taxes be a major part of any budget deal. But he knows that would anger his liberal political base, which is already showing signs of division and disapproval of his presidency. As of Wednesday, he was not budging from his tax posture.

Meanwhile, GOP opposition to raising the debt ceiling appears to be hardening, despite fears that it would push the economy over the edge.

"Currently, there is not a single debt limit proposal that can pass the House," Cantor said in a statement this week.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, is preparing a "backup plan" to give Obama the authority to raise the debt ceiling in three installments by up to $2.5 trillion, accompanied by spending cuts equal to each increase. Lawmakers would then have 15 days to pass a resolution of disapproval that Obama could veto, in which case the debt increase would become law.

The thinking in the White House high command right now is that if a budget-cutting deal isn't forthcoming, a debt-limit crisis cannot be averted, and an offensive strategy is being prepared to blame it all on the Republicans.

If it comes to that, McConnell -- who thinks the focus needs to be on spending and the Obama economy, not on the debt-limit bill -- will bring his plan up for a vote.

"All of a sudden we have co-ownership of a bad economy. That is very bad positioning going into an election," McConnell said on the Laura Ingraham talk-radio show Wednesday.

His strategy: Let Obama take full responsibility for raising the nation's debt, along with a failing economy -- the issues on which Republicans can defeat him and his party in the 2012 elections.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.