New battle over debt limit inevitable?

House Speaker John Boehner at Peter G. Peterson Foundation's 2012 Fiscal Summit Tuesday, in Washington
House Speaker John Boehner at Peter G. Peterson Foundation's 2012 Fiscal Summit Tuesday, in Washington
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Republican leaders are laying down a new challenge to President Obama and Democrats over tax cuts and the national debt.

That could mean another ugly confrontation is coming, just in time for the November election.

The two parties are still fighting over the fallout from the last debt debate.

And now, House Speaker John Boehner (R, Ohio) is drawing a new line in the sand, making another showdown over the debt almost inevitable.

Boehner issued the warning Tuesday, declaring, "We shouldn't dread the debt limit. (As a) matter of fact, I think we should welcome it."

Boehner sets up another debt limit fight

Boehner says Republicans won't allow another increase in the nation's debt limit unless it's offset by spending cuts, and no tax increases.

"Allowing America to default on its debt would be irresponsible," he said.

The nation's debt has nearly tripled in the past decade, and now stands at $15.6 trillion.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has predicted the U.S. will hit its current borrowing limit of $16.4 trillion by the end of the year.

Congress will have to raise that limit to avoid a damaging default on the nation's debt payments.

On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney echoed Boehner's hard line, saying, "Washington has been spending too much money, and our new president made things worse."

This is the second time Republicans are demanding deep cuts in exchange for their vote to raise the debt limit.

Last summer, a "grand bargain" between Speaker Boehner and the president to cut trillions from the debt fell apart. After weeks of bitter fighting, the two parties passed a bill to prevent default, but still triggered a downgrade of U.S. credit.

Democrats argue Boehner's latest comments don't bode well for compromise this time.

"The American people have had enough of this brinkmanship. They want us to get things done," says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nev.)

Virginia's Mark Warner, a Democrat, is part of a bipartisan group that's trying to build support from both sides for a mix of entitlement reforms, spending cuts, and new revenue from taxes.

"I spend a lot of time talking with my colleagues who know in their gut we've gotta do this," Warner says.

Former President Clinton spoke at the same economic forum as Boehner Tuesday and said he's optimistic that, after the November elections, the two sides will have more incentives to compromise on the debt limit lid.

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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.