"Closing those loopholes in return for lower tax rates frees us all to make more economically sensible choices," he said. "In other words, less preferences, lower rates." Hoyer did not specify how much of the $1.1 trillion in current tax preferences might be collected by the government once lower overall rates are in place.

Republicans have so far ignored Democratic requests to broaden their focus on FY 2011 spending cuts beyond discretionary non-security spending, but have pledged to do so when the FY 2012 is taken up.

The possibility of changes to the tax code is also unclear. Some Republicans have proposed a flat tax, but many tax analysts expect that eliminating various tax preferences, such as the home mortgage interest deduction, would prove controversial.