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With the White House and congressional Republicans publicly deadlocked — but privately negotiating — to steer clear of the fiscal cliff, top lawmakers were left with little to do on Sunday’s talk shows except exchange partisan attacks, even as some predicted a deal would be reached.
In another sign that the parties were inching toward an agreement, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker added his name to the list of Republicans who were acknowledging that an increase in tax rates on upper-income earners was on the horizon.
“There is a growing group of folks that are looking at this and realizing that we don’t have a lot of cards as it relates to the tax issue before year-end,” Corker said on “Fox News Sunday.”
If Republicans agree to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for only families making less than $250,000, as sought by President Barack Obama, “the focus then shifts to entitlements, and maybe that puts us in a place where we actually can do something that really saves this nation,” Corker said. “I actually am beginning to believe that is the best route for us to take.”
Tax rates rise across the board with the coming of the new year, absent congressional action, and polls show the public would largely blame Republicans if no deal is reached.
“It’s not waving a white flag to recognize political reality,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
House GOP leaders, however, have yet to budge on tax rates. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Republicans had offered a proposal that raised $800 billion in revenue through curbing tax loopholes and deductions. He blasted Obama for campaigning across the country instead of sitting down at the table with Republicans.
“He’s a phone call away,” responded Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill. A close Obama ally, Durbin said raising rates was the only way to secure enough revenue to stabilize the national debt. He said the GOP’s offer, like GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s tax plans, just didn’t add up.
Still, there is a sense in Washington that an agreement is not as far off as the public sparring would suggest.