Arguing that American businesses can’t afford it, a top House Republican pushed back Tuesday against any effort by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to include anything that looks like a tax hike in a deal to raise the debt ceiling.
“We are already taxing our job creators and our businesses more than our foreign competitors are taxing theirs,” House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on CBS’s “The Early Show.”
Obama has urged asked Republicans to be willing to yield a bit and consider eliminating tax breaks for the very rich, like one for corporate jet ownership. While the president has framed such measures as a way to raise federal revenues by closing tax loopholes, Republicans have repeatedly argued that they amount to tax hikes.
“We don’t want to go farther down that path,” Ryan said. “We want to make sure that America’s job producers, our employers, are not put at a huge competitive disadvantage. And right now they’re paying higher tax rates.”
Minutes later, speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the top Democrat on Ryan’s committee, repeatedly hit Republicans for their intransigence even as Democrats have agreed to consider some changes to Medicare and Social Security – two of what Obama on Monday called his party’s “sacred cows.”
“The president and the Democrats have said, ‘look, we’re willing to talk about these things,’” Van Hollen said. “But unfortunately the Republicans have said, ‘we’re not willing to close one corporate loophole, not one corporate jet loophole for the purpose of deficit reduction.’”
Many Democrats have been less willing than Obama and Van Hollen to consider changes to entitlement programs, though the congressman insisted that his party is giving the president “some space” to negotiate with Republicans.
“We’re willing to be part of this conversation,” Van Hollen said. “Our Republican colleagues walked away from it.”
Van Hollen also weighed in on the tensions between House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) that have been strained during their debt negotiations with the White House.
“I don’t want to get the Speaker in trouble,” Van Hollen said. “But clearly he was willing to make some tough decisions, compromises, which is what’s going to be necessary in order to get the deficit and debt under control and get the economy moving again. He clearly had his own legs cut out from under him by members of his own caucus.”
Asked if there’s another path for the federal government to take if the president and lawmakers can’t make a deal, Van Hollen was non-committal. “It’s very hard to know what Plan B is,” he said.
“As the president said yesterday, we don’t want to do something really short term because we’ll be right back in the same position six months from now as we are today,” he said.
“In fact, it will be harder because we would have already made some of the cuts. And that’s why he’s right when he says, doing a big deficit reduction deal is something that will really help the economy both in the short term and … [get] the deficit under control in the long term, in many ways, that could be easier than trying to do something small. Because you face the same issues in our Republican colleagues are just refusing to budge on this point of total rigidity.”
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