Rangel: No daylight between Obama and Pelosi on tax hikes

President Obama and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are on exactly the same page when it comes to supporting an increase in tax rates on the wealthy, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said this week.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), the Republican whip, recently suggested that there's daylight between Obama and the House minority leader regarding their approach to those rates. But Rangel dismissed that claim outright, breaking into laughter Tuesday when he was asked about McCarthy's remarks.

"I'm laughing because what he is saying, and what I'm about to say," Rangel told MSNBC's Chris Jansing. "The president has spoken on that. It was an election issue. It's been decided, and Nancy Pelosi is only following the president."

The question of whether to extend a tax break to wealthy Americans has emerged as one of the chief sticking points of the bipartisan fight to avoid the "fiscal cliff" — a long list of tax increases and automatic spending cuts that will take effect next year if Congress doesn't act first.

In 2010, Obama gave in to GOP demands to extend the Bush-era tax rates to all income levels through 2012. But he also vowed to let those lower rates expire in 2013 for families earning more than $250,000 per year — a move Republican leaders adamantly oppose.

Last week, Obama doubled down on his opposition to extending the lower rate for top earners — currently at 35 percent — though he also suggested he might not insist on going as high as the Clinton-era rate of 39.6 percent if Congress makes up the revenue difference elsewhere. He said he's “less concerned about red lines” on specific rates than he is with raising enough money to pay down deficits.

"I want to hear ideas from everyone,” Obama said Wednesday.

Pelosi, meanwhile, is also making no ultimatums about specific income tax rates for the highest earners. But, like Obama, she's insisting that a fiscal cliff deal generate revenue "by having something more similar to the Clinton rates" for the highest earners.

"What we want is the top 2 percent [of earners] to pay their fair share," Pelosi said Thursday.

McCarthy raised eyebrows Monday when he interpreted the statements of the two Democratic leaders to mean they might be divided in their approach to the fiscal cliff negotiations. Asked by Fox News about Pelosi's insistence that tax rates go up on the wealthiest Americans, the California Republican responded, "Well, the president isn't saying that."

Pelosi's office was quick to push back, saying the minority leader "fully supports the president and has stated her strong commitment to avoid the fiscal cliff."

Rangel echoed that message Tuesday, suggesting that McCarthy and the Republicans are unrealistic if they think they can balance the budget without raising taxes on the wealthy.

"Where he [McCarthy] gets the idea that we can raise revenue without raising the rates, and have that [be] acceptable, I have no clue," Rangel said. "But Nancy Pelosi and the president are reading from the same page."