Black caucus lays out conditions for debt deal support

Scott said tax rates on the wealthy must increase to satisfy the CBC, particularly given the billions of dollars in support the federal government gave to Wall Street in 2008. While most agree with extending the Bush-era tax rates for middle-class Americans, Scott said an agreement must also explain how those tax cuts will be paid for.

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"We should not agree to the extension of any tax cuts without knowing how we will pay for them," he said.

On the spending side of the equation, Scott said the CBC will insist on sparing many of the huge entitlement programs that Republicans are looking to trim as part of the package.

"We must protect our social safety net," Scott said. "Social Security should be completely off the negotiating table, since it does not contribute to the deficit. Additionally, the Congressional Black Caucus will specifically oppose any plan that changes eligibility for Medicare."

Scott said cuts to programs that deal with education, health, transportation and infrastructure should also not be chopped at all. "These vital government investments are critical to our nation's short-term recovery, and long-term economic prosperity."

Scott's description of the CBC's principles show just how difficult it still is to find a way around the cliff. Republicans this week scoffed at a proposal from President Obama to raise $1.6 trillion in new taxes and set up a new stimulus program.

Scott said policymakers should count the $1.5 trillion saved from last year's Budget Control Act as part of the $4 trillion in budget savings that some have set as a target. He also said savings from drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan should also be counted toward that target.

"So we've gone a long way in recognizing the $4 trillion goal," he said.