As a summer deadline to increase the federal borrowing limit approaches, McCarthy is warning his colleagues that inaction is not a viable option. It's a tough pitch at a time when Republican leaders, maneuvering for advantage in the debt debate, say they'll allow the nation to default unless the deal includes steep spending cuts and no tax increases.
Coburn, a blunt obstetrician-turned-senator known as "Dr. No" for his tough talk about the budget, is preaching an equally unpopular message to fellow Republicans. He's less concerned about the short-term debt ceiling debate than the country's long-term debt burden. If lawmakers from both parties are serious about averting a debt crisis, he says, they must accept a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes (though Coburn prefers the more palatable "revenue increases").