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The debt limit is dangerous for both sides. Republicans lost when they tried to insert spending cuts into 2012’s year-end tax hike debate, and Democrats lost when they tried to inject tax hikes into the fight over sequestration.

Republicans, therefore, need to leapfrog the debt limit issue, just like they did a few months ago, in order to get back to a spending-cut debate. Requiring Mr. Obama to produce a balanced budget on time, in exchange for another debt limit fix, would fit the bill. It would get them into the debate over an Obama budget and the government’s annual funding, which will need to be addressed by Oct. 1.

If Republicans’ previous effort to force a budget on Senate Democrats worked, this effort would elevate that effort to a far higher degree by focusing on Mr. Obama. Democrats had better be worried that Republicans don’t manage a repeat of the upcoming debt-limit hike in August — the sequel might prove even more compelling than the original.

J.T. Young served in the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004 and as a congressional staff member from 1987 to 2000.