If you pay attention, you can hear the sounds of negotiation on mammoth tax hikes and $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts looming over Congress, says Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.
“You've got to listen closely,” Durbin said on CNN’s State of the Union. “What I hear is a perceptible change in rhetoric from the other side.”
Republicans have relented on opposition to increasing government revenues since the election, saying they are open to closing some tax loopholes to increase the money the federal government takes in. Congressional leadership met with President Obama on Friday in the first of what will likely be many meetings on avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff before the end of this year.
But there is still far to go in negotiations. President Obama and Democrats insist that taxes be increased on households making more than $250,000 per year, but Republicans say that won’t solve the nation’s fiscal problems.
“We’re not going to solve this by asking wealthiest to pay their fair share,” Durbin said, adding that is just part of a bigger deal that includes cutting government spending.
“Again, if that would solve the problem, we would look at it,” said Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga. And chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. “Tax increases to chase ever-higher spending is a fool’s errand.”
Durbin countered that putting off tax increases for middle class Americans “solves a problem” for those very families. As for the wealthy, Durbin said, “they've been blessed with success,” and they can pay a little more.
Price said Republicans were waiting on Democrats to find spending reductions.
“This is exactly where the negotiating process is,” he said. “We've identified the tax revenue we’re willing to discuss, now it’s time for spending.”
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