Ahead of Biden Visit, Dems Call for Higher Taxes

by Andrew Stiles

With Vice President Joe Biden set to meet with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill this afternoon (4 p.m.), Democrats still don’t have a clue as to how they’re going to cut spending, and don’t appear any closer to drafting a concrete proposal to bring to the negotiating table with Republicans.

There is, however, one thing they all seem to agree on:

“Show me the money, show me the revenue,” Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) told reporters following a Democratic conference meeting. “People like me fortunate enough to have done okay should — must — pay more for their share of this society.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) said he was “greatly disappointed” with the White House for conceding too much to Republicans on spending cuts. “To take revenues off the table is unacceptable,” he said.

Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.) joined that chorus as well, insisting that “revenue” be considered as part of the negotiations.

On the House side, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) suggested earlier today that Democrats “stand ready to meet with Republicans halfway on this.” Others on the Democratic side have suggested this as well, although it is unclear exactly what they mean by “halfway,” because they also claim to have “already cut” $40 billion by failing to enact President Obama’s 2011 budget proposal. The House Republican plan cuts $61 billion from actually enacted 2010 levels. When pressed to be more specific, Pelosi said “I’m not going to say [a] number, because I’m not approximating or conceiving or stipulating to any number.”

When asked if Democrats were close to coming up with a plan, Lautenberg said: “I think we’re close to believing that we do.”

UPDATE: Chatter on the Hill is that the White House plans to offer just $6 billion in additional cuts, on top of the $4 billion already enacted as part of a short-term CR through March 18. The rationale being: $6 billion + $4 billion + $40 billion “already cut” = $50 billion, half way to GOP’s “Pledge to America.”

UPDATE II: From Mark Knoller: “WH puts House GOP budget cuts at $102.3-billion. And WH says it so far agreed to $48.8-billion & is willing to go another $6.5billion.”

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