Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Republicans have agreed to between $150 billion and $200 billion in revenue increases as part of a deficit reduction package, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said Wednesday night. The announcement is the latest bit of good news for the once-stagnant talks to raise the debt ceiling and lower the deficit before President Barack Obama is to meet with Congressional leaders to continue negotiations this afternoon.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner met secretly on Sunday to discuss as much as $1 trillion in new revenues. They are discussing cuts to corporate subsidies as part of a broader tax reform agreement that would lower rates for individuals and companies.
According to Kyl’s spokesman Andrew Wilder, the $150 billion to $200 billion in mutually agreed upon revenue increases emerged from the debt ceiling talks led by Vice President Joe Biden, and do not include any tax increases.
“If the government sells something and gets revenue from it, that’s revenue,” Kyl said on the Senate Floor. “If there is a user fee of some kind and we want to raise that to keep up with the times, that’s revenue. And if you add up all of the revenues that we Republicans have agreed to, it’s between $150 billion and $200 billion.”
The statement from Kyl contradicts the official White House position that Republicans would not agree to any new revenues in the Biden talks.
A spokesperson for Biden did not immediately have comment on Kyl’s remarks late Wednesday, while a spokesman for Speaker of the House John Boehner cautioned that “there’s no deal on anything at this point.”
Representing the far-right wing of the Republican caucus, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) broke publicly with Kyl and other GOP colleagues, saying Wednesday that Republicans would only endorse ending some tax breaks on businesses if they were revenue neutral, Dow Jones Newswires reported.
“I have said from day one, we are not for tax hikes on the American people or businesses, and if the president wants to talk loopholes, we’ll be glad to talk loopholes,” he said. “We are not for any proposal that increases taxes, and any type of discussion should be coupled with offsetting tax cuts somewhere else.”
Any movement from Republicans on revenues increases the likelihood that a long-term debt ceiling deal will be reached by the Aug. 2 default deadline.
Obama is looking to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion as part of a debt ceiling agreement, and has proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. These reductions are a political liability for Democrats, who campaigned on protecting entitlement spending; in endorsing them, Obama is putting Republicans on the defensive over their opposition to tax cuts.
The White House has stated that many of Obama’s proposed spending cuts are conditional on Republicans accepting at least some revenue increases.
Obama and Biden will host congressional leaders at the White House at 11 a.m. today to continue negotiations.
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