The top lieutenant to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made it clear Sunday that the House remains adamantly opposed to raising taxes on the wealthy in any deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Republicans wanted President Obama to “get in the room” and begin discussing entitlement reform instead of only pushing for tax hikes.
McCarthy’s comments are in stark contrast with a number of GOP lawmakers, who have suggested they are ready to raise the top rate on individuals making more than $250,000 a year.
The House GOP leadership, by contrast, has signaled openness to new tax revenues, but from closing loopholes and deductions rather than from higher rates on any income groups.
“I think if you close special interest loopholes, you have a fairer process,” McCarthy said. “That is a more efficient way and a fairer way.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), on the same show, countered that Republicans aren't putting enough revenue on the table.
By contrast, he said, Democrats are willing to cut spending on entitlements, although he said that should be done in a “thoughtful” way after the fiscal cliff talks are resolved.
“I do believe there should be means-testing [in Medicare] and those of us with higher income in their retirement should pay more, that could be part of the solution,” Durbin said. But he raised concerns about raising the eligibility age past 65 unless there's a guarantee seniors can get access to affordable, quality coverage during the gap.
McCarthy, though, insisted that higher taxes would not be part of a final deal and that the focus should be on spending.
He said the government received 10 percent more revenue in the first two months of the new fiscal year that started October 1 while spending went up 16 percent.
“The president wants to raise the rates,” he said. “And that doesn't solve the problem.”