Even though much of the media is obsessed with the coming fight over the debt ceiling, GOP leaders are urging lawmakers to see that battle as just one quarter of a larger game. They’ve already lost the first quarter, the “fiscal cliff” battle that resulted in many Republicans agreeing to an increase in income tax rates for the nation’s highest earners. The debt limit showdown will be the second quarter, with the third and fourth quarters being fights over sequestration cuts and a continuing resolution to fund the government.

As several influential Republicans see it, the goal is not to focus exclusively on any one quarter but to end up in a better place than where they started. The problem is, they can’t really say what that better place might be…

As far as big cuts are concerned, one reality emerging in Williamsburg is that Republicans will not present Obama with a comprehensive proposal to cut entitlement spending. Beyond the old Ryan road map, there is little far-reaching thinking going on about what should be done on entitlements. So look for Republicans to latch onto a few smaller proposals that Obama has spoken favorably of in the past and push the president to live by his own words.