Reid insists on new revenue to turn off sequester

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday insisted that any upcoming deal to avoid sequestration would “without any question” need to include new revenues.

“The American people are on our side. The American people don't believe in these austere things. We believe that the rich should contribute. We believe we should fill those tax loopholes, get rid of them, I should say. And that's where we need to go,” said Reid in an interview aired on ABC’s “This Week.”

The sequester cuts, delayed two months by “fiscal cliff” deal reached in January, are now scheduled to take effect on March 1.

Republicans say they conceded enough on tax revenues in the fiscal cliff deal, but Democrats say any new deal must include both equal spending cuts and revenue increases, with a target of $600 billion in new tax revenues.

Last week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) predicted the “sequester is going to happen” and blamed Democrats for not proposing alternative spending reductions.

“We think these sequesters will happen because the Democrats have opposed our efforts to replace those cuts with others and they’ve offered no alternative,” Ryan said.

But Reid on Sunday said a solution could be found and expressed openness to some suggestions from 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to shutter tax loopholes and eliminate deductions in the code. 

“The American people need to understand that it's not as if we've done nothing for the debt. $2.6 trillion already we've made in cuts. And all those cuts have come from non-defense programs,” said Reid.

“We need to keep our eye on the prize and continue doing something about spending, but I think that what we need to do is do some of the things that Mitt Romney talked about. He said there's some low-hanging fruit; there are a lot of tax loopholes that should be closed. I agree with him. We haven't done that,” he added.

Reid also joked that he was a “bad cop” during the fiscal-cliff debate over the New Year’s weekend, but was now ready to be a “good cop” in the next set of fiscal debates. 

“I'm a good cop now. … I have a good relationship with Mitch McConnell. I really admire, I think Boehner's, has the best he can. He's had a tremendous burden. I mean, he's had those Tea Party folks, but even they recognize that they don't have the clout that they thought they had, and that's why we were able to get the debt ceiling extended,” he said.

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