Congress is on the verge of shutdown over its inability to pass a continuing resolution, but Tea Party icon Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is already laying down a marker on the next high-stakes funding battle: raising the debt limit.
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, Rubio called a vote on the debt ceiling “nothing more than putting off the tough decisions until after the next election” and warned that “this may be our last chance to force Washington to tackle the central economic issue of our time.”
“I will vote to defeat an increase in the debt limit unless it is the last one we ever authorize and is accompanied by a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” Rubio wrote.
The federal government is set to hit its debt limit in the next few weeks. Without legislation raising the ceiling, the federal government faces the prospect of defaulting on its debt, unleashing a cascade of potentially catastrophic economic consequences. Republican leaders have indicated they will demand concessions from Democrats in exchange for their votes, but Rubio’s standard is among the more concrete and far-reaching expressed so far and could raise Tea Party expectations going into negotiations.
Rubio is considered highly influential among the conservative grassroots and has fended off calls from a number of prominent figures on the right, including Rush Limbaugh, to run for President. He has kept a low profile in the Senate since being elected, but in addition to the op-ed, he participated in his first national television interview this week, with ABC News. In it, he batted down suggestions he run for President while keeping the door open to a vice presidential nomination, a position where he will likely get a serious look regardless of who wins the primary.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.