As the Senate continues to discuss and debate how to address the upcoming fiscal cliff—that is, when a variety of spending measures and tax cuts are set to expire on January 1—there is growing movement on the Republican side of the aisle to join with Democrat members of the Senate in raising taxes on the highest income earners.
Bob Corker, a Republican Senator from Tennessee, has now voiced support of siding with Senate Democrats to raise taxes on what are considered the wealthy so that the Senate can resume focusing on reducing various entitlements in an effort to reduce overall governmental spending and reduce the budget deficit.
“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. I mean, we have one house, that’s it,” said Senator Corker on Sunday.
The group that Senator Corker and the other Republicans who are beginning to be willing to side with President Obama is focused on when it comes to raising taxes is the top two percent of income earners.
“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 added. ”I actually am beginning to believe that is the best route for us to take.”
Senator Corker noted that President Obama has support in general to increase taxes on the wealthy, but Senator Corker also noted that Republicans will soon have the strength to push through debt reduction measures because of the current budget that is set to expire early next year.
“I do think something’s going to happen,” added Senator Corker.
Despite the growing support for tax increases from those such as Senator Corker, House Speaker John Boehner is still facing a great deal of pressure from conservative Republicans not to increase taxes on those earning over $250,000 annually. Part of this pressure from House Republicans stems from House Speaker Boehner already having proposed to raise $800 billion in funds over the next 10 years through the limitation of various tax deductions used by the wealthy.
House Speaker Boehner has expressed frustration that despite offering concessions such as the $800 billion limitation in tax deductions that President Obama and House Democrats have not put forward any concessions. Rather, Democrats are offering what House Speaker Boehner has called “more of the same.”
Ultimately, House Speaker Boehner and fellow House Republicans are necessary for any plan to address the fiscal cliff, as Republicans control the House. And while there are some in the House, including Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who are with Senator Corker in being willing to raise taxes on the highest two percent of income earners, other House Republicans such as Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee do not support tax increases on anyone. Representative Blackburn has expressed concern that raising taxes on even the wealthiest two percent of income earners is just the first step in allowing taxes to be raised on other groups of income earners.
“No Republican wants to vote for a rate tax increase,” added Jeb Hensarling, a Republican Representative from Texas.
Charles Schumer, a Senate Democrat from New York, is using the comments from Senator Corker and Representative Cole as an indication that the issue will get addressed.
“I think we will get a deal,” noted Senator Schumer. Senator Schumer believes enough Republicans will side with Democrat Representatives to raise the tax rate on the top two percent of income earners from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, or possibly to a rate between the 35 and 39.6 percent marks.
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