Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said on Tuesday that she believes the House will ultimately reach a deal with the administration to address the fiscal cliff before the end of the year, signaling that Republicans could be persuaded to support an increase in the top tax rates if the White House lays out specific entitlement reforms.
“I’m the eternal optimist,” said Capito at a Politico event. “I believe we will reach an agreement that will pass and go to the president’s desk at the end of the month.”
Capito added that she thinks there is wiggle room in the positions of both Speaker John Boehner and the White House.
“I’m basing that on reading between some of the rhetoric. I think that we are seeing gaps between what people are saying and especially between the president and the speaker; there may be more gaps between what they are not saying, because they are not saying a whole lot,” she said.
On the question of whether the Republican-led House would support an increase in tax rates for the top earners, Capito said that Democrats need to get serious about entitlement reform, but hinted that there was the potential for an opening on the GOP side.
“Specifically in terms of the House, can marginal tax rates go up?” she asked rhetorically.
“I still believe that the Republican caucus will hold firm on the two votes that we have already taken, which were to keep the tax rates as they were," Capito said. "But a pivotal portion of this is going to be what kind of spending and entitlement cuts are specifically laid out. Not laid out into the future, not laid out as we are going to deal with it next year, but specifically laid out. I think that is going to be the tipping point for getting to a critical mass on tax reform.”