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Will GOP Budge on Taxes?



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It would seem that at least 40 House Republicans are hoping (or at least open to the possibility) that the answer is yes. The group has joined 60 House Democrats in presenting a letter to the so-called “supercommittee” on deficit reduction, urging the 12-member panel to consider “all options,” including new revenue, and produce a package that well exceeds the $1.2 trillion target.

Full text of the letter:

We write to you as a bipartisan group of representatives from across the political spectrum in the belief that the success of your committee is vital to our country’s future. We know that many in Washington and around the country do not believe we in the Congress and those within your committee can successfully meet this challenge. We believe that we can and we must.

To succeed, all options for mandatory and discretionary spending and revenues must be on the table. In addition, we know from other bipartisan frameworks that a target of some $4 trillion in deficit reduction is necessary to stabilize our debt as a share of the economy and assure America’s fiscal well-being.

Our country needs our honest, bipartisan judgment and our political courage. Your committee has been given a unique opportunity and authority to act.  We are prepared to support you in this effort.

Of course, “revenue” is a bit of a murky term in Washington, as is “tax increase” (see here, for example). “All options,” on the other hand, is rather less ambiguous, and would appear to challenge House Speaker John Boehner’s (R., Ohio) assertion, in a speech to the Economic Club of Washington, that “tax increases . . . are not a viable option.”

The letter, spearheaded by Reps. Mike Simpson (R., Idaho) and Health Schuler (D., N.C.), was signed by mostly moderate members of both parties, but the group of signatories includes lawmakers from all across the political spectrum — from Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D., Mo.) chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, to fiscal hawks like Reps. Ron Paul (R., Texas) and Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.).

In an interview with the Associated Press, Lummis, who has consistently voted against the various budget deals struck by GOP leadership, arguing that they didn’t go far enough to reduce the deficit, said she would indeed be open to “all options” in the spirit of bipartisan compromise. She even questioned the influence of Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, whose anti-tax pledge some claim is jeopardizing the negotiations:

In an interview, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., a signer who has had tea party support, said that while she would prefer to reduce the debt without raising taxes, “This is not an ideal world.” She said the national debt is a problem created by Republicans and Democrats, and both parties must solve it. She said she is not “an absolute `hell no’ person when it comes to considering all options.”

Like all but three of the 40 GOP signatories, Lummis has also signed the pledge by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist to oppose tax increases. Lummis said she did so when she was first elected in 2008, but did not sign it last year.

“Grover Norquist is not in my district,” she said. “I represent the state of Wyoming and its people.”

Additionally, Reuters reports that a smaller group has formed within the supercommittee in an effort to forge a compromise before the November 23 deadline:

Six members of a congressional “super committee” have struck out on their own in a new effort to come up with a plan to slash America’s huge deficits before a November 23 deadline.

The three Republicans and three Democrats are looking at a deficit-reduction deal of between $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion, congressional aides told Reuters on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.

Despite widespread calls for the 12-member super committee to reach a multi-trillion dollar “grand bargain” to fix the country’s fiscal mess, the six lawmakers are seeking a smaller deal because they recognize the differences between both sides over taxes and spending are too wide…

Significantly, at least two Republican members of the smaller group are willing to consider revenue increases as part of a deficit-reduction plan, one of the congressional aides and a source with direct knowledge of the talks said.

More here.



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