Washington (CNN) - The GOP senator in charge of electing Republicans to the Senate in 2012 tells CNN he is advising fellow Republicans to vote against raising the debt ceiling without major entitlement reforms, in addition to spending cuts.
"My advice to any of my colleagues who will listen is that we should vote against it and let those people who vote for it explain why it was they couldn't stop the spending spree and raise the limit on our maxed out credit card," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
"I think, there is no incentive at all for Republicans in the Senate to vote for it unless we get something real, and by that I mean something systemic," Cornyn said Tuesday in a Senate hallway.
Cornyn said something "systemic" would mean a significant overhaul to programs like Medicare, along with big federal spending cuts, which he appeared to suggest would be tough to achieve.
Cornyn's comments underscore how politically dicey it is to raise the debt ceiling above the now $14.3 trillion in order to keep the U.S. from defaulting on loans.
A CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll showed 60 percent of Americans oppose Congress raising the debt ceiling, including 78 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of independents.
That kind of opposition, especially from independent voters, is the reason Democrats are not resisting Republican calls for spending cuts to go along with raising the debt ceiling.
It is also why House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday that any vote to raise the nation's debt limit should give the Treasury Department enough borrowing authority to last through the next election cycle.
"The country will be well served if we can come to an agreement that increasing the debt which doesn't make this a monthly, or bi-monthly or tri-monthly issue. I think that's not good for the economy," Hoyer said at his weekly session with reporters.
Rejecting suggestions from some conservative Tea Party activists, who suggest holding monthly votes on raising the debt ceiling, Hoyer said, "That would of course further destabilize the markets very substantially and create great uncertainty."
But it is as much about politics as it is about the markets.
Many House Republicans also say it would be best to take one vote that lifts the debt limit through the 2012 election. One GOP leadership aide called the issue "toxic" for their members, even if it is paired with significant spending cuts.
House Speaker John Boehner laid down a marker Monday night that Republicans will demand spending cuts greater than the increase in debt authority.
But Tuesday, GOP leaders – including those taking part in bipartisan negotiations led by Vice President Biden – were careful not to get specific on what that means in terms of dollars, and time frame.
"The extent of time or the amount of time is going to be directly related to what is in the proposal that could be or not be agreed upon," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, representing House Republicans in the negotiations.
One GOP aide suggested the "trillions" in cuts that Boehner called for could be achieved over a ten year period, which is typically how Congress measures savings in their budget windows.
The aide explained Republicans could get some cuts with immediate impact, such as trimming back agriculture subsidies, and then get larger savings from reforms to mandatory spending for entitlement programs over the next decade.
Earlier in the day it was reported that Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, who is representing Senate Republicans in the talks, wanted $6 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
But Kyl told CNN that is simply the level of spending cuts in the House GOP budget, and that he and other Republicans are not demanding any specifics yet.
"Nobody is saying there is a line in the sand about what has to exist here, but let me just be real clear, Republicans will vote for a debt ceiling increase only if we do something really serious about the debt," said Kyl.
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell backed House Speaker Boehner's pledge that Republicans will not support any deal to reduce the deficit that includes raising taxes.
A bipartisan group of six senators, known as the "Gang of Six", has been meeting for months, discussing what amounts to some tax increases as part of tax reform to reduce the deficit.
Although the group includes some of the Senate's biggest conservatives and McConnell allies like Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, he abruptly dismissed the idea that they will find an acceptable deficit reduction plan.
"With all due respect to the Gang of Six, or any other bipartisan discussions going on this issue, the discussions that can lead to a result between now and August are the talks being led by Vice President Biden," said McConnell.
"That's a process that could lead to a result, a measurable result, in the short term," he said.
As for the Biden led talks, he said he envisions a deal that includes "short term, mid term and long term" spending reductions with "no blue smoke and mirrors."
"We can't get this job done and we cannot raise the debt ceiling without impacting some entitlements," said McConnell.