They are losing the battle over higher taxes on the wealthy, so now Republicans are threatening a political war next year when it comes time to raise the nation's debt ceiling.
With cracks appearing in their anti-tax facade and polls showing most Americans favoring President Barack Obama's stance in the fiscal cliff negotiations, GOP legislators are starting to advocate a tactical retreat to fight another day.
Conservative Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, promised the newly re-elected Obama "one hell of a fight" next year if the president forces through his plan for high-income earners to pay more taxes without agreeing to substantive steps to reduce the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt.
"But there will come a time in February and March where we have to raise the debt ceiling," Graham said Tuesday on "Piers Morgan Tonight" on CNN.
"I will not raise the debt ceiling ever again until we get significant entitlement reforms, because if we don't reform entitlements, we're going to become Greece," adding that the situation presented a chance for Obama to lead. "But if he doesn't lead, there's going to be one hell of a fight over raising the debt ceiling."