House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday teed up another debt-ceiling brawl, announcing that Republicans will insist on the same kinds of demands that Democrats claim brought the country close to its first-ever default last summer.
The speaker, in an address in Washington Tuesday afternoon, said that when it comes time to vote on a debt-ceiling increase, he'll once again call for "cuts and reforms" greater than the amount of that increase.
"It's the right thing to do," Boehner said. "This is the only avenue I see right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance."
That fight could happen by early 2013, potentially during a frantic post-election lame-duck session of Congress.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, preempting Boehner's remarks, made an appeal Tuesday morning to avert that battle and simply raise the debt ceiling without the chaos.
"Only Congress, of course, can act to raise the debt limit -- and we hope they do it this time without the drama and the pain and the damage they caused the country last July," Geithner said, speaking at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation's 2012 Fiscal Summit before Boehner took the podium.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, on Capitol Hill, also said the debt ceiling "shouldn't be a political issue," claiming Boehner knows that.
The looming debt-ceiling debate will coincide with a slew of other debates over unresolved tax and spending issues -- including the potential expiration of the Bush tax cuts.
Last summer, Republicans insisted on spending cuts greater than the amount of the debt-ceiling increase. After weeks of tense negotiations on Capitol Hill, and market turmoil, Congress struck a deal -- though that deal has had mixed results. The "super committee" charged with finding more than $1 trillion in budget savings as a product of that deal failed to reach an agreement, triggering massive automatic cuts to defense and other areas of domestic spending which Congress is now trying to fiddle with.
A Boehner aide told Fox Business Network that the speaker's office still needs to discuss with members what the next debt-limit increase might look like -- in terms of how long it would last and what kind of cuts would be demanded in exchange.
Boehner, in his remarks, said he wants "real" cuts and not "gimmicks."
"We shouldn't dread the debt limit. We should welcome it. It's an action-forcing event in a town that has become infamous for inaction," Boehner said in his prepared remarks. "When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase."
The national debt is now at $15.7 trillion.